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Jun-11-2009 10:49TweetFollow @OregonNews
Keeping a Clear Picture for the DTV Switch FridaySalem-News.com
Unfortunately, local retailers have mostly been selling boxes in the $60 to $100 range, while the government coupons, still available for free, amount to a $40 savings on the cost of the box.
(PORTLAND, Ore.) - For one of America's favorite pastimes, the digital age starts this Friday. It's the official day for the switch to digital television signals or "DTV," and it means Oregonians accustomed to watching free, over-the-air programs on older television sets need to have a digital converter box hooked up - or all they'll see is snow on the screen.
Jonathan Lawson, executive director of the Northwest-based advocacy group Reclaim the Media, says television stations have been doing a good job explaining that the change is near. However, the people who depend on older-model sets with the "rabbit-ear" style antennas also happen to be the viewers least likely to know about switch. Some, he adds, can't afford the change.
"Free TV is a lifeline of public safety information and local news for a lot of people. That's more true for low-income folks, for seniors and for immigrants, than it is for any other group."
Lawson says Congress authorized the digital TV coupons in an effort to keep television access free, even after the conversion. While there are plenty of online sites where you can get a converter box for the value of the coupon, he warns that finding a box at a local electronics store at the coupon value is not so easy.
"The government coupons, still available for free, will provide $40 off the cost of the box - but, unfortunately, local retailers have mostly been selling boxes in the $60 to $100 range."
In Oregon, there are DTV information events and clinics this week in Eugene, Florence, North Bend and Roseburg. Get the details online, at dtv.gov/map.htm?state=OR&x=8&y=8.
On the same Web site, you can also see instructions for hooking up a digital converter box and read answers to frequently asked questions about the switch to DTV.
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