Federal officials came all the way from Washington, D.C. Tuesday to spread the word in the Bay Area. Digital TV is on its way.
"Anyone who has an old analog television set and receives broadcasts over the air with rabbit ears are going to need to take action," says Meredith Baker with the Commerce Department.
If you have cable or satellite, you don't have to worry. However, Baker says about 13 percent of Americans still get their TV in analog over the airwaves. Some don't know about the Feb. 17, 2009 digital change that's coming -- in particular, the elderly.
"We certainly want to reach more impacted communities which are the low income, the rural, the elderly, certainly the seniors," says Baker.
Federal and state officials came to an ancient building in San Francisco's Chinatown to warn about the arrival of the modern digital era.
"We came all the way from Washington, D.C. because it was very, very important," says Roger Goldblatt with the Federal Communications Commission.
They showed senior citizens a box that converts an analog TV to digital and a $40 government coupon that helps pay for that converter box, which costs $50 to $70.
"I think about 50 percent of the people here need to get the converter box," says Philipa Leung with Self Help for the Elderly
At Self Help for the Elderly, folks ate lunch and watched an old analog TV.
"I have rabbit ears so it's going to be hard," says Emerson Chin of San Francisco.
"I don't think they are ready yet, like I said, they are very confused," says Leung.
Some of the elderly we spoke to had just heard about the digital change.
"Kind of shocked because we use our freedom to get a TV," says Chin. "A lot of seniors are going to have a hard time getting it because they still have to chip in the money and the poor people are going to have a hard time."
Resources and links on the DTV conversion:
- To get a coupon, visit www.dtv2009.gov.
- ABC7's guide to what you need to know about the Feb. 17, 2009 switch to DTV (includes frequently asked questions)
- For in-depth and updated information about the DTV transition, visit www.dtvanswers.com.
- CNET: The transition from analog to digital