Friday, May 24, 2024

Smooth Digital Transition Expected For Latinos

Today marks the day television signals switch from analog to digital, and federal officials and broadcasters are hoping that today’s switch to an all-digital broadcast television around the country will go smoothly.

The Obama administration pushed for a four-month delay on the long-planned digital transition that was scheduled for Feb. 17 until today for most of the country. It has poured an additional $650 million into the switch, including reducing a backlog of 4 million requests for $40 government coupons to subsidize the purchase of special digital converter boxes so that older televisions could receive the new signals.

Outreach on the issue has  had a special emphasis on Spanish-language media efforts for the Hispanic community. A study this week by the Nielsen Co. found that Los Angeles and other cities in the Southwest, those with large Latino populations, are less prepared for the switch than other areas of the U.S.

In Los Angeles, Univision’s Spanish-language KMEX-TV Channel 34 sent volunteers to speak at senior centers to educate older viewers about the digital transition. Walt Disney Co.’s KABC-TV Channel 7 has been beaming an electronic message warning of today’s change on its sign off the Golden State Freeway.

One of NBC Universal’s Spanish-language stations in Los Angeles, KWHY-TV Channel 22, provided a booth to the Federal Communications Commission at last month’s Fiesta Broadway event in downtown L.A., which was attended by hundreds of thousands of Latinos.

The other NBC Spanish-language station, Telemundo’s KVEA-TV Channel 52, helped coordinate with local radio station contests that gave away free digital converter boxes to listeners.
Maelia Macin, general manager of KMEX, said, “We have been gearing up for this for the last 18 months. We know that we serve as a lifeline for many of our viewers, and the primary focus of our station is to educate our community.”

Acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps has been focused on the transition ever since Obama nominated him in January saying, “Had we gone ahead in February, we would have had a consumer backlash of considerable magnitude. Now there will still be some level of disruption, there’s no question about that, but it’s a lot better than it would have been.”

Los Angeles Times