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Hawaii Embarks Upon DTV Transition

15 Jan, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

Hawaii was the first state to make the complete switch to all-digital TV Jan. 15, doing so without any major technological hitches, but with thousands of residents still unprepared for the analog shutdown, news media reported.

State officials told The Associated Press that as many as 20,000 Hawaii residents were still getting their TV via analog. A message reportedly told those residents that the 20-odd TV stations servicing the islands were now digital, followed by a video announcement about the change. The announcement will run on analog signals for several weeks.

“It will also serve as a model for the rest of nation as they make their transition in February,” said Chris Leonard, president of the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters, in a press release.

Residents who need to buy a digital converter box have plenty of options for now. A call to a Circuit City on the island of Oahu found them stocked with “a couple hundred,” an employee said.

Earlier this month president-elect Barack Obama’s transition team called for a delay in the nationwide analog switch-off, after the $1.34 billion Congress allocated toward redeemable $40 digital converter box coupons ran out. Both the Consumer Electronics Association and the Federal Communications Commission oppose that idea.

Instead Congress is moving forward with legislation to give more funding to the coupon program, which is being run by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). Another $650 million for the coupon program is being discussed as part of an economic stimulus plan.

Outgoing U.S. Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez is urging Congress to approve $250 million that would allow NTIA to begin sending the coupons to tens of thousands of people already on a waiting list.

“This approach would ease the transition for consumers seeking coupons, while maintaining the integrity of the transition plans,” Gutierrez’s letter reads.


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