If the switch to digital TV occurs as planned, a lot of low-income people are going to lose their only source of news, weather, emergency information, and "Two and a Half Men". At least, that'll be the case if Seattle area stores don't start stocking $40 digital converters.
Most retailers are carrying only boxes costing $60 and up, says Jonathan Lawson, director of the media justice organization Reclaim the Media. "For a lot of families, that's more than their weekly food budget."
Even worse, the federal program offering $40 coupons to low-income people making the switch has run out of money, and now has a 2.5 million person waiting list. As a result, Congress is considering delaying the transition.
Nickels and the City Council echoed Lawson's concerns in letters encouraging local retailers to stock the cheaper converters. Writes Nickels in his:
For many viewers, TV is a basic necessity, not a luxury... We strongly encourage local retailers to do the
right thing in this matter.
If you're reading this blog, TV probably isn't your only source of news, though it is probably still your only source of "Two and a Half Men". But if you do need the cheaper converter, oddly enough, Lawson says you can find it at a DishTV outlet in Olympia or on the DishTV website. Reclaim the Media will have updates on the availability of the boxes here.