Congress may delay the DTV Transition date

As I write this month’s letter, it appears that the new President and Congress may delay the planned end of analog television broadcasting scheduled for February 17. This is in large part a response to the federal government running out of coupons to help over-the-air television viewers purchase digital converter boxes. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed. It is also a reaction to finding out how important free over-the-air television is to so many people in the country, especially in rural areas and the inner city. We’ll continue to provide the latest information about the transition on television, radio and online, especially since the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) selected WXXI to help lead the community education effort about the transition to digital TV. You can read more about the FCC contract we were awarded on this highlight page or on page 5 of the February Guide (PDF).
 
If you already have a digital converter box, I encourage you to hook it up and make sure it’s working properly. If you have questions, we’ll be able to help. Best of all, you’ll receive additional digital channels from WXXI – more educational programming, more news and information, and more of the programs that you’ve always enjoyed. Whether the transition takes place on February 17 as planned, or in June as proposed, we’ll be here to help you through it. Again, if you already have a digital television receiver, or you subscribe to cable or satellite, you won’t need a converter box. You’ll continue to receive your favorite programs without any changes.
 
Of more immediate concern to the future of WXXI is a proposal by Governor Paterson to slash by 50% state operating aid to public broadcasting.  This would have a very negative impact on programs and services provided by WXXI (especially educational programs).  In these difficult economic times, everyone is making sacrifices and tightening belts (and we’re no exception).  A 50% cut, however, is out of proportion to other reductions in the education budget.  Please let Governor Paterson and your Assembly Members and State Senators know that you support a restoration of operating funds for public broadcasting. We’ll keep you posted on our progress on our website, WXXI.org.
 
In the meantime, I want to share some very good news with you on community support for WXXI. I am gratified to report that we have about 1,000 more members today than at the same time a year ago, a solid show of support for public radio and public television in the Greater Rochester area. The latest independent Nielsen ratings for WXXI-TV were the best in nearly a decade, especially for our documentaries and news and public affairs programming (we continue to have the largest audience for children’s programming of any station locally). I trust you agree that our Albany correspondent, Karen DeWitt, has done an outstanding job keeping our radio listeners informed about the State’s fiscal situation (and changes in control of the Legislature). 
 
Finally, take a few minutes to review our line-up celebrating African-American history this month. It’s the kind of in-depth educational and enlightening programming you only find on public broadcasting. Thanks for helping to make it possible through your support for WXXI. Have a Happy Valentine’s Day and let’s all hope for an early spring! 
 
Best regards,
 
Norm Silverstein
WXXI President & CEO
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