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TV Shut-Off Warnings Herald June 12 Deadline

6/05/2009 03:50:00 PM Eastern

Washington — With one week to go before the end of full-power analog TV broadcasting, national leaders, including the president, sent out word to those still unprepared to take action now, or risk losing their favorite over-the-air TV shows.

President Obama issued the following statement Thursday, including a warning that there would be no further delay:

“On June 12 — one week from tomorrow — the nation’s full-power television stations will switch to all-digital programming. The transition to digital will free up airwaves for broadband and enhanced emergency communications for our police officers, firefighters, and other first responders.

“In February, I worked with Congress to postpone the deadline television broadcasters had to end their analog signals, because it was clear that millions of Americans would have been left in the dark if the conversion had gone on as planned,” the president continued. “I directed key members of my administration to reach out and help Americans, especially those in our most vulnerable communities, to make the switch to digital television.

“In the months since then, we have worked hand in hand with state and local officials, broadcasters and community groups to educate and assist millions of Americans with the transition. The number of households unprepared for digital television has been cut in half.  Still, some people are not ready.

“I want to be clear: There will not be another delay. I urge everyone who is not yet prepared to act today, so you don’t lose important news and emergency information on June 12.

“And I encourage all Americans who are prepared, to talk to their friends, family and neighbors to make sure they get ready before it’s too late.”

Then, on Friday, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF) issued a statement, warning: “Households that have applied for their $40 coupons, but have not yet received them, should purchase and install at least one converter box if possible, to maintain access to critical emergency alerts and news. Certified, local retailers have a plentiful stock of converter boxes.

“Families who have not yet applied for their coupons can still do so until July 31, but will not receive their coupons in time to make the transition next week,” according to an LCCREF statement.

To apply for a coupon, households must call (888) DTV-2009 or visit www.dtv2009.gov. It typically takes about nine business days to receive the coupons. To track the status of the coupons, visit: https://www.dtv2009.gov/checkstatus.asp

To find local resources to help, families can call (888) CALL-FCC or go to www.dtv.gov and enter their ZIP codes to find local DTV-assistance centers.

The group also urged families who have a coupon they may not need to quickly donate it to help neighbors who may not get their coupons in time.

The group said it has partnered with nearly 100 community organizations to collect and distribute hundreds of coupons to needy families.

To help unprepared families with the switch, people with unused, unneeded and unexpired coupons can mail them to: Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund National DTV Coupon Exchange Program P.O. Box 66081, Washington, D.C., 20035