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FCC plans digital TV wake-up call

Some local broadcasters will interrupt their analog signals Thursday in a “soft test” to remind analog viewers they need to prepare for the June 12 deadline for the nationwide digital television transition.

The test, which will not affect cable or satellite TV subscribers, will simulate what analog viewers will experience when the transition occurs, the Federal Communications Commission said. During the test, broadcasters will interrupt the regular programming of those viewers to warn them the interruption indicates they are not prepared for the transition and must take immediate action to avoid a total loss of service next month.

Consumers who do not subscribe to pay television services and have older, analog televisions will need to attach digital-to-analog converter boxes to their televisions to continue receiving over-the-air television programming, according to the FCC.

The length of the test will generally range between two and five minutes. 

“The soft test is a wake-up call to consumers telling them that the time to get ready for the DTV transition is now,” said acting FCC chairman Michael Copps in a statement.  “We don’t want anyone to be left without the news, information and entertainment they need and enjoy.”

Information about local DTV transition assistance, such as walk-in-centers and free in-home installation, is available at www.dtv.gov. Consumers also can call 1-888-CALL-FCC.

Nielsen estimates that about 3.3 million households – 2.9% of U.S. households with TVs – remained unready for the transition as of May 10, the FCC said.

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