Cross-posted from the Commerce Department's website at:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, June 15, 2009
CONTACT OFFICE OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS
U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today assured Americans who are still not digital-television ready that converter box coupons are still available and that outreach will continue to those consumers who rely on free over-the-air broadcasting.
"We made tremendous gains in the last four months in preparing Americans for the transition to digital broadcasting, but our work is not done," Locke said. "We will continue to inform unprepared Americans that $40 coupons for TV converter boxes are still available so they have access to the news and emergency broadcast information they need."
Last week, the Department of Commerce's TV Converter Box Coupon Program received requests for nearly 1.7 million coupons from Monday, June 8, through Sunday, June 14, with approximately 428,000 requested on Friday, the day the national switch to digital occurred. During that period, retailers redeemed more than one million converter box coupons. In addition, the Coupon Program's call center handled 1.38 million calls last week.
Even though the transition is complete, the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will continue to provide consumer assistance. TV converter box coupons will remain available to consumers who apply until July 31, while supplies last. In addition:
- The TV Converter Box Coupon Program website www.dtv2009.gov will be updated and its toll-free number, 1-888-DTV-2009, will stay running, with both English- and Spanish-speaking operators.
- Targeted radio ads will continue.
- NTIA consumer outreach grantees, The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Education Fund (LCCREF) and The National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a), will continue providing information and assistance to targeted populations.
- The Coupon Program will continue making coupon request and redemption data available to retailers to help them manage converter box inventory.
NTIA embarked on an unprecedented consumer education and awareness campaign in partnership with the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies, state and local governments, members of Congress, consumer groups, and industry. During the past four months, NTIA's outreach efforts included:
- Ads in approximately 700 media outlets nationwide that reach minority communities.
- A public service campaign targeted to public transportation riders with ads in transit shelters, bus interiors, on the outside of buses and on bus benches. Total ridership on the buses that displayed the Coupon Program information was 59.6 million.
- Mobile Assistance Centers - DTV clinics on wheels - bringing information and assistance to dozens of cities with 211 events nationwide.
Meanwhile, Locke's outreach included more than five dozen DTV interviews and events:
- Television and radio interviews in more than two dozen of the most unprepared markets to educate consumers about the transition.
- DTV events in Los Angeles with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in Sacramento with Mayor Kevin Johnson, and in Baltimore with Governor Martin O'Malley.
- Interviews in every major Hispanic/Latino media outlet in the country, including El Piolin, Univision and Telemundo, and top outlets geared toward African American audiences, including the Tom Joyner show and BET's "106 and Park."
The efforts significantly cut unpreparedness numbers.
The transition to digital broadcasting will free up airwaves for use by emergency responders. In addition, digital broadcasting provides a clearer picture and more programming choices for many consumers. Consumers can go to www.dtv2009.gov for more information.