Civil Rights Group & Consumer Advocates Urge Congress to Delay the DTV Transition

Washington, DC - On the eve of an expected House vote on the delay of the digital television transition, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and Consumers Union held a press conference call to discuss the advantages of changing the DTV transition deadline and offering needed resources to the 21 million households that rely on over-the-air television.

"A delay is important but it is not sufficient," said Mark Lloyd, vice president of strategic initiatives at LCCR.  "Funding is necessary to extend the coupon program and support local groups to help all Americans get the assistance they need to keep access to free over-the-air television service.  We urge Congress to act as soon as possible."

The government-mandated DTV transition will require millions of Americans to take action in order to maintain access to free over-the-air television and important emergency announcements. As the February 17th deadline approaches, millions of Americans - often communities of color, people who speak a language other than English, people with disabilities, low-income families, and the elderly - are still left without the necessary assistance to make the transition.

"This is a huge transition that benefits business and government.  We need to make sure that consumers get treated fairly, too," said Joel Kelsey, Consumers Union policy analyst.  "A four-month delay should provide enough time to address the problems with the transition.  A delay is a win for consumers, especially the millions of people sitting on waiting lists for converter-box coupons."

LCCREF is working with local groups in seven cities across the country to assist at-risk communities in the DTV transition through outreach, converter box trainings, and workshops.

"Though we're reaching a lot of the people who will be affected by the transition, what we're hearing is that folks are aware of the transition, but confused," said Tania Maria Rosario, the LCCREF DTV coordinator for Seattle. "An extension will hopefully allow time for the government to fix problems with the coupon program and help us in our work to make sure that our communities make a smooth transition to digital TV."