Last chance for DTV conversion help


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San Francisco and the Bay Area appear nearly ready for the DTV conversion. A recent Nielsen study shows 97.3 percent of us are good to go. However, many of the elderly make up the other 2.7 percent.

Self Help for the Elderly in San Francisco has been on the forefront of getting their clients ready for the digital conversion. Much of their work has been centered on government discount coupons good towards $40 off on the cost of a digital converter box.

"I do not have a converter box coupon, but through TV and radio I know that there are coupons that I can apply for," says Yongtian Liang who never applied for a coupon. Others do not qualify because they live in rooming houses which are classified as hotels.

DTV coordinator Winnie Yu says even without the coupon, at this late date families should move ahead.

"We are actually encouraging people to go out and buy a box if they don't want to lose signal on June 13th when they turn on the television, to be prepared. However, there are families who are not able to afford the converter box at the market rate of $50-70," says Yu.

For those people, Self Help for the Elderly is collecting unused cards. It is also though, still encouraging them to apply for the discount.

"The deadline to transition is June 12, so if you apply for the card now you will not get it before June 12, however you should be able to receive it about nine business days after you're approved," says Yu.

The thinking is better late than never.

Self Help for the Elderly is going so far as to make housecalls and installing the boxes for those who need that kind of help.

Making the DTV transition

There are three ways to make the transition:

  • Get a digital converter box.
  • Subscribe to cable or satellite.
  • Buy a new TV that is digital ready.

Remember, if you're getting your signal over-the-air using a converter box or digital TV, you may need to rescan the channels the first time you use your television after the transition.

So, the first time you turn on your TV on Saturday, June 13th, follow these steps. Press menu on your remote and choose the channel scan function. Your TV set or converter box will then find all the channels available in your area so you can keep watching your favorite shows.

If you still have questions about the digital TV conversion or how you can get a converter box or coupon, please take the time to call these numbers: 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or for local help dial 2-1-1.

You can also get more information online at

The Bay Area also has several walk-in assistance centers to answer your DTV questions and help you get set-up.

Self-Help for the Elderly (407 Sansome Street) in San Francisco offers bilingual services in Chinese. Vietnamese and Chinese speakers can also find help at the Southeast Asian Community Center (875 O'Farrell Street) in San Francisco.

The Oakland DTV Assistance Center (1431 23rd Avenue) also offers Spanish and Tagalog.

For help in the South Bay, visit the India Community Center (525 Los Coches Street) in Milpitas.

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