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Digital TV switch: This time, it’s for real

POSTED: June 5, 2009 12:16 a.m.

The digital TV switch is one week from today— are you ready?

In the months following the Congressional decision to delay the digital transition from Feb. 17 to June 12, more households have prepared to receive digital broadcasts, through digital converter boxes, new TV sets or subscribing to cable or satellite services.

According to Nielsen, as of May 24, only 2.7 percent of American households were still unprepared to receive digital TV, down from 5.1 percent Feb. 1.

The Metro Atlanta Area, including Hall County, is more prepared than the national average, with only 1.47 still unprepared.

Fox 5 Atlanta Vice President and General Manager Gene McHugh said he thinks the Atlanta area is more than ready for digital TV.

"We’ll be delighted when it’s complete. It’s been a long time in the process and I think consumers and broadcasters alike are just awaiting the date with great anticipation," McHugh said. "I think the Atlanta broadcasters have done a fine job of relaying the message over the years that this is coming and you need to do something about it. Reciprocally, I think the communities have all been very responsive in recognizing that they need to do something in their own homes to prepare for the transition."

Fox 5, along with most other major broadcast stations, will shut down analog signals June 12. However some stations, like Georgia Public Broadcasting and WNEG in Toccoa, made the switch to digital TV Feb. 17, the original date set by Congress.

Though his station was completely prepared for digital broadcast, McHugh said he understands why the delay was beneficial.

"There’s always going to be a percentage of the population that’s last minute. The community depends on over the air broadcasting for emergency information in particular so I think it’s essential that we try to get it to maximum penetration so nobody’s left out in the cold," McHugh said.

Some with old analog sets may have opted to buy new TVs instead of investing in a converter box to outfit an old one to receive digital signals.

Following the switch on June 13, Keep Hall Beautiful will hold an electronics recycling event at Wal-Mart, where residents can bring TVs and other electronics to recycle.

Rick Foote, president of the board for Keep Hall Beautiful, said there are few salvageable materials in televisions, which makes them costly to recycle. Televisions of any size will cost $10 to recycle, but all other electronics can be recycled for free.

He said it is important however to recycle TVs, because if they are not properly disposed, the hazardous lead contained in the glass could leak out into the soil and water.



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