The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights Releases Report Urging Congress to Increase Public Education Efforts to Prepare for 2009 Switch
In anticipation of Congress focusing attention on the digital television transition, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights released a report this afternoon — Transition in Trouble: Action Needed to Ensure a Successful Digital Television Transition — detailing the challenges to achieving a successful transition and identifying action steps to meet them.
“The transition to digital television will probably not go as smoothly as everyone would like, but if Congress acts now, we can ensure that millions aren’t cut out of modern 21st century communications next February,” said LCCR executive vice president Nancy Zirkin.
By law on February 17, 2009, most television stations must stop sending analog over-the-air signals. This will change the way Americans watch television — especially those most reliant on free over-the-air television, many of whom are low-income Americans, seniors, people with disabilities, communities of color, and people who speak languages other than English.
The report details specific challenges faced by these communities, such as difficulties for seniors and people with disabilities in accessing captioning and the loss of community (low-power) broadcast television stations that provide the news and information on which communities of color and non-English speaking populations rely.
“We need to reach deep into communities who rely on over the air broadcasting to find out if they are prepared for the transition, and we need to make sure all Americans get the message about the DTV transition from messengers they trust in a language they can understand,” said LCCR vice president for strategic initiatives Mark Lloyd. “Then we need to follow up to make sure they get the assistance they need to continue to have access to important news and emergency broadcasts.”
It also provides a set of recommendations for Congress and the Bush administration that include:
- Improving the organization of the transition
- Providing increased consumer outreach, education and research
- Reducing costs and burdens of the transition on viewers
- Preserving communities’ access to their television stations
- Preparing for rapid response to problems
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition. For more information on LCCR and its nearly 200 member organizations, visit www.civilrights.org.