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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 6, 2009 6:30pm-7:00pm EDT

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>> of these 18 stations, there will no longer broadcast after the 12th? >> my understanding is that they do not have that. >> let's take one more from here and one more from the internet. >> last question. >> do we know what the topic of the next meeting will be? >> we have not announced that.
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we have not announced what the data will be. >> what happens if the senate gets its act together before the july recess? even with a couple of days preparation, >> i would imagine it would be an item. >> this concludes the press conference. thank you mr. chairman and commissioners. >> in the you know when you will start the hearings? >> of this past week, the judge saw him sotamayor was on the hill. >> i would like to see people say that this is the best hearing we have ever had.
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>> she is a very human person of great legal mind and i think that is the right person to be on the supreme court. >> watch her with members of the judiciary committee. but that is today at 7:00 p.m. eastern. >> this week, on the communicators, during the program, we will hear from the fcc, a television broadcaster and an activist group. >> a decade after it all began, the nation is ready to transition to digital television. this week, on the communicators, we will talk with several people involved in the process we are joined by bill lake who is the digital television coordinator at the fcc.
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on june 12, what is going to happen on that day and at what time? >> what happens is that analog television will end. many people think the digital transmission will end of -- began then. you will no longer have an analog signal and that means the people who or not ready will lose their television reception. >> what time will happen? >> we give the stations their choice and they have to report to us. there will be about 150 stations between civilian and noon. then, the large bulk of stations will happen at midnight. >> how many households do you expect not to be ready for this transition? what's the latest is about 3 million. that cuts and half the number one not ready at the end of
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january and the beginning of february when the extension was made. >> in this last week, what is the fcc doing? >> we have a very concentrated outreach effort. about 250 people of our own going to shopping malls and everywhere they can to tell them that it is time to act. >> all of the public service announcements have said that if you have cable or if you have vios or satellite tv, you are ok. is that 100% guarantee? >> yes. there are some people that receive satellite and receive their local stations over the air. if you get your local stations over an antenna, those stations will not be in analog anymore.
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the great bulk of satellite people have -- do not have that problem. >> i want to go over this with you. so how are 32 million approved it -- so far, 32 million approve households have transitioned. but what does that mean? >> they applied for a coupon and that application has been approved. that means that they -- once it is approved, they will perceive the coupons in the mail. >> this is the actual coupons. this is what people will receive. it is just like a credit card. it is usable only once and it is good for $40. when you buy a converter box, you take that you pawn in and it is used as a credit for $40. >> $42 million * $40. >> households are entitled to two coupons. i>> " do people who have cable
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television or satellite television, do they need to apply? >> i take that back. if you have cable in one room of your own, but you have another tv in the kitchen and that receives program over the air, did you need to prepare for what ever set receives programming over the air. >> 58 million coupons have been mailed, and 30 million coupons have been redeemed. >> are there still 18 million coupons out there? >> that is a question we will see the answer to. the redemption rate has always been 50% or less. that may be that people are procrastinating. that may also mean that some people that applied for coupons did not really need them. we have been encouraging people who have coupons and do not need them to donate them to people who are not qualified to receive them because they live in a
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rooming house where someone who is not ready. we do not know how many of those coupons will be redeemed in the last days. >> 21 million coupons have expired. how long all these good for? >> they are good for 90 days from when they are mailed. what happens is, if they do expire, you can just apply for a new one. >> people should realize that the coupon program does not end on june 12. shebaa applications will be accepted through july 31. that means that they can be mailed them and they will be good until november. >> $1.4 billion in funds have been committed. what does that mean? >> most of that is the cost of the coupons. about $90 million was made available for this outreach
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effort that we are engaged in with the commerce department. >> $346 million in funds are available. does that mean for those who have not converted? >> yes. >> this is one of the converter boxes. this is what you buy with the coupons. if you have a television and you receive this, you just took this up to your television. how easy is this? >> it is quite easy for someone who does not have a psychological block about it and is comfortable with technology. there are very few places in the back to plug a cable and. it is a matter of plugging your antenna in on one place on the box and plugging it into your television set. a lot of people are not comfortable with that. we have been offering to send people into the homes of people who were not comfortable hooking up the box and they can have the box hook up for free in the home. >> how many calls have you received? >> we get calls daily.
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it is in the tens of thousands. we are prepared to have the installs. >> the fcc also has some call centers. what is happening at the call centers? >> we have trained agents to answer pretty much any question. " they ask what scanning is. agents are standing by to answer these questions and the call number is a eight-call-fcc -- is a 88 -- is 888-called-fcc. -- 888-call-fcc.
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the problem is, if someone wakes up and sees that the screen has gone blank, but will not see a message on the screen to call. a station can do this nightline service which continues to broadcast in analog just to provide the basic information. it is a voluntary program and we have encouraged stations to do it. we would like to see it least one station in every major market to do it. >> we also talked with joe barton. he is the chairman and now he is ranking republican on that panel. we talked about it him about the transition. >> are we more prepared for the
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digital transition and we were in february? >> not really. a to the extent that we will be totally prepared, we were prepared then and we will be about as prepared now. statistically, i think we are more prepared than we were back in february. . we're going to be about 98.9% ready. no matter what time we put the day, they will wake up the day of the transition. they were looking back in february and the president put it off for 90 days. that is coming up in june in a couple of weeks. almost everybody in the country will be totally ready. there will be a couple percentage points was translates into 2-3 million tv
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sets that are not ready to go. >> your district is both urban and rural. what are you seeing? >> most people are cognizant of it and they are ready to go. " statistically, the dallas-fort worth area is one of the more unprepared. there are about 4.5% according to nielsen and the fcc that are not ready i think that in the great texas tradition, they are waiting until the last moment and the day before, they will go out and get their converter box and they will be totally okayed the day of. >> as a member of congress, do you think you will bear the brunt to people are not prepared and the tvs don't work? what i do not think there will be much brunt to bear. i was chairman when we put the transition in place and i am proud that we put in a hard day. i am proud that that hard date has already arrived and it
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slipped a little bit. i think the country will be much better off once we get through the transition. there will be to allot of spectrum that goes to first responders. of course, your picture will be sharper and brighter and the spectrum that is used for over the air television will be much better utilized. >> speaking of that on use spectrum, what is known to happen to that? you foresee hearings? >> a lot of it has already been spoken for. some of the new systems and networks that were ready to go back in february will finally kickoff here in june to the extent that the spectrum is now free that has not been spoken for, i would assume that the fcc would hold hearings and will
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probably do another option. >> do you foresee hearings on the digital transmission? what i think so. chairman waxman and chairman markey and before them, chairman belcher and chairman dingell have already held a lot of hearings on the transition. i would think that sometime this fall, there will be commissioners coming forward. there is not going to be this huge problem. half the country has already gone digital and you have not heard any great outcries in those markets. admittedly, they were smaller markets, but things work fine. people who wait until the last minute, like me, i have not
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gotten my converter box. i know i have two weeks to do it. we will wake up and go get it done in the country will move forward. >> what did you hear in that interview that he would like to respond to? i agree with the congressman. some people will not be ready and regardless of when the date is. some people do not get their taxes filed on time. another thing is that i think it was very good for congress to set a hard date so that they will know when this will happen. also, the transition itself is a good thing. digital television will be good for television viewers and the spectrum that is released for other purposes will go to very good purposes such as public safety. what i do not agree with is the extension of the date. what we found was that there was a substantial number of people, about 6% of the homes that were not ready because there had not been sufficient effort to
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getting them ready. we think we have made a real dent in that and we have roughly cut that in half since february. in the dallas-fort worth market, the percentage has gone from 10% in january until about six% now. one thing that we have found is that the homes that are not ready are in areas of vulnerable populations, the elderly, low- income families, minorities, and families whose first language are not english. they are the hardest to reach and we have been concentrating on outreach efforts in those groups. we have made substantial progress since february. >> so, your call centers will be bilingual? >> yes. we have the ability to refer calls to a translator service where they can handle 100 languages. if we get calls and hungarian, we can handle those -- if we get
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calls and hon gary, we can handle those. -- if we get calls in hungarian, we can handle those. only about 50% of the population has been substantially affected by the transition, so far. there is no question what remains for june 12 will be the better way than we will prepare so that people who have not already prepared will know what to do. >> we went to one of the stations that had not prepared. it is a public station here in washington d.c.. >> kevin harris, what happens to this television station on june 12? >> we transition at noon and go to our for digital channels. we are excited about it. it is about time. basically, we go to tv 26.
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we do 24/7 kids on weta-kids. we have those gorgeous pictures that public television is known for and now it is in high definition. >> why did the decision not make the job back in february? >> you have to talk to the folks on the hill that c-span talks to a lot. we were ready to make the jump to years ago. we made a lot of investment. we started two years ago to create our for digital channels. we have been broadcasting 24/7 on all of our digital channels since february 1. we have been ready to go. because we broadcast to all of our citizens and then to the
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hill, we show them how multitask can work especially for a public service. we have been ready to go, but as you know, the fcc and everyone wanted to wait until june 12. we thought we would take as long as necessary to inform the public of the change. >> however former your viewers? >> we have been broadcasting digital forever. we have been doing all of the commercials. now, we are public television and we have an older audience and this is a huge change. a lot of people that watched c- span and watch public television have been doing the same thing for 50 years. they have not realized that this picture that they have gotten is not the big -- did the best picture.
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they are trying to get ready and get the new equipment, but they are going to have to deal with what we call the cliff effect. when people talk about buying a new ht set, what they do not talk about is the cliff effect. when i grew up, we had great reception of the rabbit ears, but it probably was not a perfect reception but we could still get the analog signal% in digital, you either get the signal or you do not. >> will people be calling here to ask what happened? >> i keep saying is what is called the arizona affect. there is no snow. you either get it or you don't. our folks and the fcc have been very great. the commercial stations and around the country have been great in informing people about the switch. i think there will be some last minute folks who have not bought
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the right equipment or are not on cable or digital or the satellite. for the most part, i think they will all be ready for june 12. >> how much does it cost to get ready? it cost a lot of money. some people say it's like going to color from black and white. a sort of kind of. it has been like going color. we had to change the master control which is control center for a television station. we had to change our transmitter. we had to get a new tower and a new kind of tower and we had to get a new master control. it cost millions of dollars. a lot of people on the street will say that we are public television. we do not make the millions of dollars off of news and other
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commercials that other stations do. it to broadcast public-service programming is the same cost as to broadcast the seinfeld repeat at 730. it costs a lot of money. >> to get assistance from the government? >> we did. -- did you get assistance from the government? >> we did. we have to raise the other 50% for the equipment. we had to redo the studios and we had to redo everything. that has been so helpful. individuals have helped in supporting the other 50%. it costs a lot of money, but the good news is that just like with c-span when cable with digital, we are not just one station, we have for services. our mission is education program
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to as many people as possible. >> bill lake, he talked about how much money the corporation had spent on this. how much private money in public money has been spent? >> it has been very expensive for the stations because they have to invest in new equipment. it is happening at a rough time. i do not have a total amount of money, but it has been an expensive transition. one thing that i would echo is that it is worthwhile. we have been concentrating in the last few weeks about avoiding disruptions which is our principal concern. i want to remind everyone that the digital transmission is good for the country. television will be much better, even if you do not have a high definition set. you'll have a better picture and better sound and more stations. the multi testing that he referred to cut " but many have been broadcasting multiple
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channels. they will be receiving more programming than before. i would also point out that in addition to freeing up the spectrum for other uses, going digital is important. but much of the world has gone digital, now. we know what benefits happened when cellular telephones went digital. now there are so many things that cell phones could but do that they couldn't do when they were analog. it we will come out of this with digital broadcasting. this will be an area where we can change the world. >> i know that your lawyer that came on for this job specifically in march, 2009. your the digital note tv
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transition coordinator. you know what is known to happen with the spectrum right away? on june 13? is the option of spectrum want to be used immediately? >> much of the spectrum has been auctioned and bought by wireless companies and many are prepared to put that spectrum to use quite quickly. there is additional parts of the spectrum that has yet to be put to use. is there to help have nationwide public safety spectrums. >> mr. harris also have the cliff effect that he started taking notes at that point. why? what's there will be reception issues. it is not a simple matter of buying a converter box and making sure that you have good reception, the digital signals will travel differently from the old analog signals. one thing we want everyone to remember is that more stations will gain viewers them will lose them in more viewers will gain
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programming and will lose it. there may be some that will lose their reception because of these reception issues. one thing that we are doing is to hammer engineers standing by to help deal with perception issues as they come in. >> eric swanson is joining us. she is a their digital transition coordinator. ms. swanson, why is this considered a civil rights issue? >> for many americans, this is one of the first times when we are really feeling the impact about media and communications policy. this is an issue that is coming into people's living rooms and coming into our television sets. it is affecting us and our real lives. it is a simple issue for a
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number of reasons. many of us enjoy watching american idol or other shows, but it is so much more than that. so many households in depend on television for a primary new source and whether source and emergency broadcasts and to find out what is going on in their community. it is a critical way to stay connected. it is important that we maintain that access. >> what was your message to the fcc when you testified at their last dtv hearing? as we get closer to june 12, we are only days away, now. there are a number of things that people need to do now. second, there are a number of things that people can do to help their neighbors and the number of changes that take place after june 12, there is more to do. we do not know what is going to
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happen on june 12. we do not know what the major challenges will be. we can predict many of them. we will learn as we go. we do know that we have come a considerable distance since february 17. that four month extension of the digital television extension deadline give us more time to prepare these bore hon. communities, but we know that there are likely to be hundreds of thousands of americans that are left behind on june 12. >> you referred to changes after june 12 but will still be happening. what you mean by that? >> -- what do you mean by that? >> months after the 12th, broadcasters will be changing their location on the tower. we know that some broadcasters are setting up translators or
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transmitters to boost their signal strength. in the end, that is a very good thing. their cigna will reach farther. but we do not yet know what the full strength of each of the broadcasts in all of the markets will be. we also do not know what the real world impact of interference is going to be. there are some real talent is that people face as they install the converter box and their antennas with interference. sometimes it is about the building that they lived and -- that they live in. we know that there will be seasonal variations. the first time that a snowstorm hits the twin cities, what will happen to their digital signals on that day. what will happen when there is a hurricane or real thunderstorms that hit areas of our gold coast. what will happen to those signals? we do not know what will happen


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