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DTV education effort launched

A two-year effort has begun to inform Americans about the transition to digital television. That's a good thing because the country's deadline for shutting off analog TV is scheduled for Feb.17, 2009.

The goal is to inform viewers who depend on over-the-air broadcasting that analog service will end on Feb. 17, 2009, and that a digital receiver or converter will be needed for continued service.

The campaign was unveiled one day after House Energy and Commerce Chairman John Dingell, D-MI, told reporters that the deadline to switch to digital television might be postponed out of fear that a federal subsidy program for digital converters is not on schedule.

Nancy Zirkin, vice president of the Leadership Council on Civil Rights, characterized the change to digital as a "tectonic" shift. "People who depended on free, over-the-air TV simply won't have access to it," she said. "And for those living on fixed incomes and tight budgets, buying a new television is a luxury, not an amenity."

Coalition participants in the education campaign also include the Consumer Electronics Association, National Association of Broadcasters and National Cable and Telecommunications Association.