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DTV Transition Spurs Donations

Fearing that Friday’s analog shutoff will leave many viewers stranded without over the air TV, several companies have announced donations of converter boxes and antennas to the unprepared.

Zenith is donating converter boxes to hundreds of viewers in Houston, Dallas, Albuquerque and Seattle, which have been identified by Nielsen as the most “unprepared” areas in the country. And Antennas Direct, a manufacturer and provide of over the air TV antennas is offering local senior centers and communities free DTV antenna giveaways during the month of June.

Over the past two weeks, more than 200 Zenith DTV converters have been shipped to the Area Agency on Aging in Houston, to the Dallas Concilio of Hispanic Service Organizations, to the Barelas Senior Center in Albuquerque and to Reclaim the Media, a leading community outreach organization in Seattle. This isn’t a first for the company, however.

“Over the past year, we’ve also donated hundreds of converter boxes to organizations in Missouri, North Carolina, Arkansas, Texas, New Mexico, California and Minnesota to help as many people as we can to prepare for the final digital switch,” said Richard Lewis, Zenith senior vice president. “Millions of consumers have also purchased Zenith converter boxes for use at home and we continue to offer free telephone support to anyone with a Zenith converter box as well as easy to follow installation instructions at and”

Zenith is urging consumers to immediately set up their converter boxes and to re-scan for digital signals on Saturday, the day after more than 1,000 U.S. broadcasters will shut down analog signals. “It’s important to start your day on Saturday by re-scanning for channel with your converter box,” Lewis said. That’s very easy to do with the Zenith converter box—just touch the MENU button on the remote control and select AUTO TUNING on the Setup menu. The box will automatically scan for new channels in just a few seconds, even before you finish your first cup of coffee.”

St. Louis-based Antennas Direct said it has “been fielding numerous calls from viewers all over the nation who are having reception issues, and a majority of those calls are from older Americans and senior citizens,” said Richard Schneider, company president. “This is an alarming trend given that a large proportion of the population gets their news, weather and health information from network TV.”

Antennas Direct has traveled the country holding educational events and antenna giveaways in partnership with network TV stations to raise awareness of potential DTV reception problems. So far, its nationwide Antennas NOW! Bust Tour has visited over 30 TV stations, driven more then 22,000 miles and helped thousands.

The company’s antenna giveaway is taking the form of a contest reminiscent of “Queen for a Day.” Senior centers/communities are urged to notify Antennas Direct to request an antenna giveaway event at their location. The company will choose two senior centers based on the most compelling story and greatest need. Winners of the contest, which will include installation assistance, demonstrations and tips for DTV reception, will be announced on Friday, June 12. To be considered for the contest, stories must be submitted via e-mail to Katie Brady at