01.15.2009 08:03 AM
FCC awards $8.4 million to fund grassroots groups helping with transition

The FCC has awarded 12 grassroots organizations and local agencies about $8.4 million to help over-the-air TV viewers prepare for the digital transition, the commission said Jan. 6.

The funds were given to local, regional and national organizations that could assist with converter box procurement and installation, establish and staff local call centers, educate consumers about the transition and other local grass roots efforts.

The FCC solicited proposals for work nationwide with a special emphasis on the 82 markets with the highest over-the-air TV populations. The commission wanted select groups that serve those deemed at risk in the transition, such as senior citizens, people with disabilities and Spanish-speaking households.

The groups include:

  • AARP, which was awarded $2.7 million to provide assistance to seniors in setting up converter boxes and to answer transition-related question from its existing call center.
  • Communication Service for the Deaf (CSD), which was awarded $1.1 million to assist deaf and hard-of-hearing Americans with getting and installing DTV converter boxes and how to use DTV closed caption services. CSD will create a national telephone/TTY help center for the deaf and hard of hearing.
  • Hispanic Information and Telecommunication Network (HITN), which was awarded $750,000 to assist the Hispanic population with converter boxes. HITN will work with local community groups to set up walk-in assistance centers in 20 U.S. TV markets.
  • PinTech, which was awarded $2.8 million, to assist seniors, low income, disabled and non-English speakers in North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia. PinTech will work with volunteers from local and state organizations to help consumers with the transition.
  • The Mayor’s Commission on Technology, serving Philadelphia, which was awarded $166,000 to help residents buy converter boxes and coordinate free installation.
  • WXXI Public Broadcasting in Rochester, NY, which was awarded $202,000, to work with senior citizens, those with disabilities and minority groups in rural communities. For elderly and disable people who cannot solve their DTV issue over the phone, the organization will send a qualified technician for in-home visits to install converter boxes.
  • VN TeamWork, in Houston, which was awarded $46,000 to help non-English speaking Asian Americans. The group will set up a walk-in help center and a call-in center. It also will distribute language-appropriate literature.
  • Iowa Public Broadcasting Board, which was awarded $223,500 to conduct a statewide education campaign and set up a telephone help center for senior citizens in rural areas and low income family and individuals.
  • Idaho Public Television, which was awarded $35,000 to provide a statewide toll-free help line.
  • Wisconsin Public Television, which was awarded $94,600 for statewide community outreach events and a telephone help line targeted at reaching rural communities and minority populations.
  • Ohio State University/WOSU Public Media, which was awarded $196,000 to coordinate free converter box installations with local agencies, creating local call-in and walk-in help centers and publicizing the conversion.
  • Knox County CAC, which was awarded $36,000 to help county residents purchase converter boxes by coordinating with volunteers to accompany the residents to stores or to buy boxes on behalf of targeted groups, such as seniors, non-English language speakers, minority groups and those who are disabled.
For more information, visit www.fcc.gov.

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