Posted by PBS Publicity on

PBS and Member Stations Help the Nation Prepare
Through On-air, Online and Community Resources


Resource-rich Web site in English and Spanish, 30-minute Special from
THIS OLD HOUSE, on-air PSAs Are Central Elements to PBS

ARLINGTON, VA, November 10, 2008 - Today, PBS President and CEO Paula Kerger joined the leaders of several national organizations to mark 100 days before the nation completes its transition to Digital Television (DTV) after midnight on February 17, 2009. Ms. Kerger, Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, FCC Commissioners Deborah Taylor Tate and Robert McDowell, National Association of Broadcasters President and CEO David Rehr, as well as moderator David Gregory of NBC News and others gathered at the Newseum in Washington, DC, to discuss how viewers can take steps now to avoid losing access to free television service when analog broadcasting by full-power TV stations ends next year.

"Television is a vital lifeline for millions of viewers - especially the elderly and disabled," said Ms. Kerger. "They risk losing this critical connection if they don't prepare for - or if they are not aware of - the nation's switch to digital broadcasting within the next 100 days. As America's most trusted institution, PBS has a special role to play in this transition. With our member stations and other partners, we're working on-air, online and in the communities we serve to help the public prepare for DTV before the February deadline. We hear the clock ticking, but if we all continue working together, we'll ensure no viewer gets left behind."

PBS has embarked in an extensive outreach initiative to help people successfully navigate America's conversion to digital television. Major components of these efforts include:

  • PBS' online resource center, www.pbs.org/dtv, which features all of PBS' DTV materials, including how-to guidance for making the switch to DTV, informative video segments, fact sheets in English, Spanish and large-print, links to other helpful Web sites and more;
  • A 30-minute special from PBS and THIS OLD HOUSE entitled "Get Ready for Digital TV," which debuted in October and will be seen on PBS stations through next February (check local listings);
  • Public Service Announcements (PSAs) with THIS OLD HOUSE's series host Kevin O'Connor and master carpenter Norm Abram to clarify confusing aspects of the transition and encourage people to prepare for February's analog shutoff; and
  • Spanish-language PSAs featuring Maria Hinojosa, Senior Correspondent on PBS' weekly public affairs program NOW on PBS.

All of the items listed above, including the THIS OLD HOUSE program, can be accessed on www.pbs.org/dtv. Each of the video elements is also posted on PBS' DTV Playlist on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=A3046753BB5E7BCDv).

In addition, local stations are at work in their communities to build awareness. A partnership of PBS, member stations and the American Library Association offers even more ways for people to get the information they need.

"Get Ready for Digital TV" features Mr. O'Connor and Mr. Abram offering how-to guidance in real homes, walking viewers through the steps they need to take to prepare for the analog shutoff. They show one homeowner how to install a digital converter box. Ms. Hinojosa joins the do-it-yourself experts to explain the basics of the transition ? what it means, who is affected, why the transition is taking place and more.

The half-hour program and the short "DTV Tips" address the switchover in easy-to-understand, basic terms that describe all the options for the transition, as well as how individuals can determine if they are ready or need to take steps to prepare. Throughout PBS' schedule, the English- and Spanish-language on-air spots and shorter "Tips" segments will air between programs that reach adult audiences.

The THIS OLD HOUSE pair is featured in the printed materials aligned with the campaign. The materials can be downloaded from PBS' DTV site, which was updated with new features, up-to-date DTV transition information and additional materials in September.

Complementing PBS' national efforts, member stations across the country also are developing plans for community-based outreach: producing local spots, hosting converter box demonstrations and other events.

To encourage even more local outreach, PBS is partnering with the ALA to give libraries tools and resources to help their patrons. PBS created a resource kit, which is being distributed by the ALA, that includes informative materials libraries can provide to their patrons on a daily basis or as handouts for workshops about the transition. Online links and video segments also will be available for local libraries' Web sites. PBS stations will provide the expert personnel to serve as presenters at library events and to help librarians answer questions from their patrons. Libraries are an ideal place to hold DTV-related events, since they offer a comfortable and convenient environment in which to meet and, like PBS stations, they are a trusted source of information in their communities.

About PBS
PBS, with its 356 member stations, offers all Americans - from every walk of life - the opportunity to explore new ideas and new worlds through television and online content. Each week, PBS reaches more than 65 million people and invites them to experience the worlds of science, history, nature and public affairs; hear diverse viewpoints; and take front row seats to world-class drama and performances. PBS' broad array of programs has been consistently honored by the industry's most coveted award competitions. Teachers of children from pre-K through 12th grade turn to PBS for digital content and services that help bring classroom lessons to life. PBS' premier children's TV programming and Web site, pbskids.org, are parents' and teachers' most trusted partners in inspiring and nurturing curiosity and love of learning in children. More information about PBS is available at www.pbs.org, one of the leading dot-org Web sites on the Internet.



CONTACT: Jan McNamara, 703.739.5028, jmcnamara@pbs.org