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Switch to digital TV pushed to June

The U.S. Senate passed bill that extends the deadline for broadcast networks to switch their television signals from analog to digital. The change requires viewers to upgrade their sets. Photo by Christina Santucci

The U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday to delay the nationwide switch of television signals from analog to digital to June 12.

Originally, the Federal Communications Commission mandated that all U.S. stations make the switch Feb. 17, but statistics released by Nielsen Media Research show 2.57 percent of New Yorkers were not ready to make the change.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D−N.Y.) said the majority of those are senior citizens and working−class families who do not have the time or money to upgrade their TV sets.

“This was the right thing to do. To cut off senior citizens from television, their major source of news and entertainment, and in many cases their lifeline, would have verged on [being] cruel,” he said in a statement.

TV viewers with sets made after 2006 and cable and satellite customers are capable of receiving the new signal. Other viewers have to purchase a converter box to get the digital signal, which provides improved picture and sound quality.

The federal government originally offered free $40 coupons to help purchase the $60 converter boxes, but stopped offering them in the fall.

Schumer said he is trying to get the coupon program extended so that more New Yorkers can upgrade their sets.

“This delay, combined with an improved coupon program, should rectify this situation,” he said.

— Ivan Pereira

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