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Last updated at 17:11 BST, Friday, 12 June 2009

US prepares for digital switchover

Summary

12 June 2009

More than two million households in the US will have blank television screens today when stations across the country switch off their analogue signal for good. The nationwide digital transition has caused a last minute rush to buy converter boxes and new TVs.

Reporter:

Matt Cleghorn reading report from Greg Wood in New York

The switch to the digital television signal makes old analog televisions obsolete unless a converter box has been purchased

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Report

American television viewers have been bombarded with a series of adverts over recent weeks, warning them that the analogue signal would be switched off today and urging them to buy set- top converter boxes if they didn't want to lose reception.

The government has issued coupons, worth 40 dollars each, to cover most of the cost. In total the US authorities have spent two billion dollars to smooth the transition. But, according to the Federal Communications Commission, there are still 2.2 million households which have made no preparations.

Unlike the United Kingdom, where the analogue signal is being switched off region by region, the United States has decided to pull the plug in one go, across the nation, leading to accusations that some groups, especially the elderly and the low income households, have been left behind in the digital rush.

Greg Wood, BBC News, New York

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Vocabulary

bombarded
had lots of information directed at them
adverts
commonly used abbreviation for 'advertisements': films, pictures or songs aimed at selling a product or idea to viewers
analogue signal
the system of broadcasting by which televisions currently receive programmes
urging
strongly encouraging
set-top converter boxes
digital receivers which sit on top of televisions and contain the technology to convert TV pictures and sound into a digital format
reception
the television's ability to receive programmes
coupons
official pieces of paper which can be used instead of money
region by region
one area or location at a time
pull the plug
to stop an activity continuing in the way it has done
digital rush
the changeover to digital technology which is happening very quickly

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