Friday marks the end of analog television, but millions of households could still be unprepared for the nation’s switch to digital-only TV.
The switch was supposed to happen in February, but Congress pushed the deadline to June 12 after regulators found that five million American households had yet to prepare for the transition by buying a digital television set or converter box, or subscribing to a cable or satellite-TV service. About three million households could still be unprepared, according to estimates in late May by Nielsen Co.
A vast majority of Americans have been set for the transition for years because they subscribe to pay-TV services such as cable and satellite that won’t be affected by the digital switch.
The Federal Communications Commission has spent $75 million over the past few months to help people get ready. It set up a call center with 4,000 agents available to answer questions over the weekend and funded a free, in-home installation program for consumers who need help setting up converter boxes.
Some areas have already made the switch, with more than one-third of local TV stations having shut off their analog signals months ago.
Regulators have said for months that there would be people who wouldn’t be ready for the switch, no matter how many informational commercials were broadcast.
But Congress delayed the switch to June because of a shortage of $40 government coupons that help consumers offset the cost of purchasing the set-top boxes that let older, analog TVs receive digital signals. Lawmakers pumped an additional $650 million into an existing $1.5 billion government-coupon program but warned there would be no more delays.
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