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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - To help TV viewers get ready for the June 12th deadline for the transition to digital television, the South Carolina Broadcasters Association has announced new DTV walk-in help centers. In the Midlands, Radio Shack stores and the Best Buy on Harbison Blvd. in Columbia will be ready to help walk-in customers with DTV converter box, reception, and antenna problems. Staff members at each location have received training on issues related to the DTV transition. See the list of stores below.
In addition, two Midlands agencies are helping seniors with the digital transition. The Central Midlands Area Agency on Aging in Columbia and the Santee-Lynches Area Agency on Aging in Sumter have received funding for a "Keeping Seniors Connected Campaign." The agencies are conducting an on-the-ground, community-based campaign to ensure that the most vulnerable older Americans who currently rely on over-the-air television signals are provided the education and one-to-one assistance to successfully make the conversion to digital programming. They provide assessments to determine the need for DTV converter box, assistance in applying for the Converter Box Coupons, help with installing converter boxes, and training older persons to use the new technology.
The Central Midlands program is open to those 60 and over in Richland, Lexington, Newberry, and Fairfield Counties. For more information, contact Shelia Bell-Ford at Central Midlands Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging at (803) 744-5127. In Sumter, Lee, Kershaw, and Clarendon Counties, seniors can contact Shawn Keith at the Santee-Lynches Area Agency on Aging at 1-800-948-1042.
For all consumers, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) operates 24-hour DTV help lines for both voice and TTY communication. Those toll-free numbers are: 1-888-CALL-FCC (voice) and 1-888-TELL-FCC (TTY). The hotlines are staffed around the clock to answer questions and guide individuals through their converter box and DTV antenna set-up.
In order to view a digital signal on an older, analog television without cable or satellite after June 12, 2009, a converter box will be required to receive all full-power TV stations. According to the Nielsen Co., 3.9 million U.S. Television households were unprepared for the digital switch as of March, meaning they had no TVs capable of receiving a digital signal. Most of these homes are low-income, elderly, non-English speaking or disabled individuals, or those headed by people 35 years of age or younger.