WASHINGTON: The Federal Communication Commission has recruited AmeriCorp to help people hook up DTV converter boxes. The FCC said today it signed an interagency agreement with AmeriCorp to mobilize volunteers for community outreach events, to staff information centers and to do home visits.
The FCC will train teams of eight to 12 AmeriCorp members, with a focus on people most at risk of losing TV reception when the remaining 900 or so TV stations end analog broadcasting in June. Of special concern are the poor, non-English speaking people, senior citizens, the disabled and people living in remote areas and on reservations. The effort will extend beyond June 12, the final deadline for the DTV transition.
Denver will serve as the test market for the AmeriCorp game plan. Volunteers will be dispatched as early as next week in the Mile High City, where several stations are pulling the analog plug in mid-April.
Around 600 TV stations in the country have already cut analog signals, with another 1,200 or so to do so between now and June 12. As of March 15, Nielsen estimated that around 4.1 million households remained unprepared for the DTV transition and were at risk of losing access to TV programming. While programming itself is often considered banal, the nation’s over-the-air broadcast system doubles as its emergency alert system.
The FCC is recruiting the International Association of Fire Chiefs to help, and soliciting bids for call centers, walk-in locations and in-home installs. The commission, along with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, has identified 49 at-risk communities pegged for special attention by the volunteer teams.
1 Albuquerque-Santa Fe, NM
6 Baltimore, MD
9 Chicago, IL
11 Cleveland-Akron (Canton), OH
12 Colorado Springs-Pueblo, CO
13 Dallas-Ft. Worth, TX
14 Dayton, OH
25Las Vegas, NV
30 Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN
43Salt Lake City,UT
44San Juan, PR
45 San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, CA
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