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CEA Supplies Converter Boxes In Test Market

7/21/2008 04:00:00 PM Eastern

Arlington, Va. — Preparing for a real-world market test of the analog TV cutoff, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) is providing more than 100 free digital television converter boxes to residents living in long-term care facilities in Wilmington, N.C., and the surrounding counties.

The converter boxes are being reserved for residents who do not subscribe to pay-TV service or have DTV sets, and therefore must have a box in order to continue watching over-the-air TV broadcasts. CEA said.

Wilmington’s full-power commercial television stations will commence all-digital broadcasting on Sept. 8, 2008, five months ahead of the nationwide digital conversion on Feb. 17, 2009.

“Wilmington is leading the nation in ushering in the era of digital broadcasting, and this initiative by CEA members means long-term care residents in Wilmington can continue to enjoy their favorite channels, as well as new programming choices,” stated Gary Shapiro, CEA president/CEO.

The converter boxes that CEA will distribute are being supplied by its member companies Best Buy (Insignia brand), EchoStar (DTVPal brand) and LG Electronics (Zenith brand).

CEA is providing information on the donations to administrators of long-term care facilities and representatives from local agencies. This CEA initiative is made in cooperation with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which is the federal agency responsible for the converter-box program.

Representatives from EchoStar and Zenith are demonstrating how to install and operate the boxes and CEA is providing copies of its “Florence Henderson’s Digital Tips” brochures, which include a three-step converter-box installation guide. Facility staff will install the converter boxes for residents this summer.

“TV is a lifeline for many people in long-term care, and many of our seniors on fixed incomes rely on free over-the-air channels,” said Jane Jones, director of the Area Agency on Aging for the Cape Fear Council of Governments in Wilmington. “We appreciate the consumer electronics industry’s help and concern for these individuals.”

Other residents across the country are eligible to receive converter boxes at a dramatically reduced rate through a government subsidized coupon program. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is the federal agency overseeing distribution of up to two $40 discount coupons per household to offset the cost of certified converter boxes; more information is available at www.dtv2009.gov or (888) DTV-2009.

More information about CEA’s ongoing digital television public education efforts and a downloadable copy of “Florence Henderson’s Digital Tips,” can be found online at www.digitaltips.org. Consumers may also obtain the guide by writing to Digital Tips, P.O. Box 73, Fanwood, N.J. 07023.