FCC commissioner visits Memphis to discuss The Big Switch

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV0 - In February of 2009, television as we know it will change.  That's why FCC commissioner Deborah Taylor Tate was in Memphis on Friday to talk about the switch to digital broadcasting.

"Obviously, you know that this is a revolutionary change," Tate said.
On February 17th, almost 85,000 people in Memphis will lose their analog TV signal.   Those who subscribe to cable or satellite won't have to worry, but those using rabbit ears or an external antenna to watch the television sets they now own will need a digital converter box.

The federal government is issuing up to two $40 dollar vouchers per household to put toward the purchase of converter boxes, which cost anywhere from $40 to $150 dollars.

"This is kind of not just a national transition, its almost a home-by-home transition," Tate said. "You have to figure out what you need to do, so a lot of this is about personal responsibility."
Some attended the meeting to voice concerns about the poor and the elderly in Memphis.

"Who can't get out and buy the boxes? Who don't understand? The poor, who don't even have with the coupon enough," Regina Grehan said.

Former FCC Commissioner Dr. Benjamin Hooks shared that concern.

"There are people, if you gave them the adapter, they really under God wouldn't know where to even put it," he said.

Hooks has asked the federal government to provide money for community outreach programs in schools and churches, so the switch to digital television can be a smooth one for everyone in Memphis.

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