NTIA, Civil Rights Group Partner on DTV Assistance

Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, Commerce Dept. agency target "at risk"population with local DTV assistance centers.

The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) are teaming up with local partners to open DTV assistance centers in seven "at-risk" cities.

The centers will provide information and technical assistance for folks with the most need of help in making the transition to digital TV Feb. 17, 2009, and in some cases before that. Those "at risk" populations have been identified as minorities, non-English speakers, low income, seniors and those with disabilities."

The markets getting the centers are Atlanta; Detroit; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Portland, Ore.; San Antonio; San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland; and Seattle-Tacoma. They are identified as those with large numbers of those target populations.

The effort will be officially announced Monday afternoon in a press conference with Wade Henderson, president of the Leadership Conference and Meredith Attwell Baker, acting head of NTIA. Part of the U.S. Commerce Department, the NTIA oversees the distribution of government subsidies for DTV-to-analog converter boxes, which allow viewers with analog sets and over-the-air reception to continue to receive a signal after the DTV switch.

One of the reasons the target populations are at greater risk of losing TV is that groups like seniors and minorities tend to have higher percentages of viewers with only analog over-the-air TV service.