Washington — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has enlisted the support of hundreds of AmeriCorps National Civilian Community Corps (NCCC) members to assist individuals having difficulty making the switch to digital television.
The nationwide effort will target groups and communities the FCC has identified as needing special attention, including low-income individuals, minority communities, non-English speaking consumers, senior citizens, consumers with disabilities and individuals living in rural areas or tribal lands, the FCC said.
The NCCC is an AmeriCorps program made up of men and women between the ages of 18 and 24. Members will receive FCC training before being deployed to targeted neighborhoods and homes and will work with FCC area coordinators. Much of the outreach work is expected to be performed after business hours and on weekends.
The work will begin shortly and is to continue through the June 12 deadline for full-power broadcast TV stations to cease analog transmissions and go exclusively with digital signals.
AmeriCorps NCCC members will be visit homes where individuals need help to connect their antennas and analog televisions to digital converter boxes, help consumers apply for the $40 converter box coupons, make presentations at community events, serve in walk-in DTV help centers and spread the word to over-the-air populations who are still unprepared to receive digital TV broadcasts.
Teams of eight to 12 AmeriCorps NCCC members will serve under the guidance of FCC area coordinators and often will work side-by-side with the many FCC employees who volunteer to work in communities throughout the country.
The FCC said it has selected Denver as a test market for the program, and member training will begin there next week in advance of early digital transitions planned for mid-April by several Denver television stations, including two major network affiliates.
AmeriCorps NCCC is a full-time, team-based residential program. Its mission is to strengthen communities and develop leaders through direct, team-based national and community service to meet environmental, educational, public safety and other human needs. AmeriCorps is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, which also oversees Senior Corps and Learn and Serve America.
The FCC said AmeriCorps NCCC is among several organizations that will be enlisted to help prepare the public for the transition. The FCC said it is finalizing a Statement of Work for a proposed contract with the International Association of Fire Chiefs to provide similar locally based consumer assistance.