Bloomberg To Push DTV Coupon Applications

Mayor will tell New Yorkers they must act now to be ready for digital switch
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According to sources familiar with the event, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in concert with the Metropolitan Television Alliance, plans to call a press conference next week (probably Monday) to encourage New Yorkers to apply for DTV-to-analog converter box coupons or take other steps to be ready for the DTV transition, whenever it happens.

Bloomberg, who built his fortune reaching people through screens, will be joined by on-air talent from the major New York TV stations, including WCBS, WNBC, WABC, WWOR, WPIX, and Spanish-language WXTV (Univision) and WNJU (Telemundo).

The alliance is a consortium of 11 New York TV stations seeking a long-term solution for digital-television broadcasts in the New York market. New York faces special DTV challenges after the destruction of DTV facilities atop the World Trade Center.

The mayor's message will be that "you need to act now" to prepare for the switch. He and others are expected to talk about the fact that the DTV transition date may be delayed, and that the coupon program is backed up, but that DTV is available now, so "why wait?"

The government currently has about 1.5 million people on a waiting list to get the coupons, but Congress is working on bills to free up the money and speed the program, either that or delay the transition date to June, or both.

The mayor will ask viewers to call the city's 311 general info number, which New Yorkers use when trash hasn't been picked up or other government services issues. Operators have been trained to answer DTV calls as well.

The city's Consumer Affairs Commissioner and Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications  are also expected to be in attendance to talk about the transition.

The mayor's office had not returned a call for comment at press time.