The Day TVs Go Dark has Arrived

An unknown number of households here in the Bay Area will no longer be able to see tv starting tomorrow.

Instead they will see an animation that explains digital television is now a reality.

The world of analog is over.

Anyone who has cable or who has bought a new TV within the past two years doesn't need to change anything, said Glenn Phillips, Federal Communications Commission DTV coordinator for San Francisco.

However, the estimated 2.1 percent of households with older TVs in the Bay Area are still unprepared.

Owners of those sets need two things: rabbit ears or an antenna, and a digital converter box.

The switch from analog to digital, among other benefits, will clear airwaves to meet a growing demand for wireless services, including first-responder radio, FCC officials said.

According to the FCC, low-income, senior, minority and non-English-speaking households are the most affected by the change because those households are more likely to have older TVs without cable.

People can sign up for a $40 government coupon for the converter box until July 31. There are many ways to sign up, including through the commission's Web site, Converter boxes usually run from  about $50 to about $80 and are available at most mainstream electronic  stores.

If Bay Area residents need help with anything along the way, there is a general FCC hotline, (888) CALL-FCC, and four Bay Area walk-in centers.

Two digital TV walk-in centers are in San Francisco - at the Southeast Asian Community Center at 875 O'Farrell St. and the Self-Help for the Elderly offices at 407 Sansome St.

There is also a walk-in center in Milpitas at the India Community Center at 525 Los Choches St. and one in Oakland at the Digital Television Assistance Center, 1431 23rd Ave.

Phillips said about 20 people visit or call the centers each day. He said people most commonly ask about how to set up the converter box once they have purchased one.

Copyright BAYCN - Bay City News
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