Isle DTV transition on track for Thursday


POSTED: Friday, January 09, 2009

A proposed delay in the digital television transition will apparently have no impact on Hawaii's go-early time of noon Thursday.

“;We're planning to do the transition as scheduled Jan. 15, 2009, in accordance with the request from Hawaii's broadcasting community,”; said Lyle Ishida, Hawaii DTV transition manager for the Federal Communications Commission.

A proposal by the Consumers Union Wednesday spread through Washington, D.C. like wildfire and was reiterated by President-elect Barack Obama yesterday, citing concern for consumers unprepared for the Feb. 17 national transition date.

As of Monday, Hawaii requests for DTV converter box coupons were at 53,012, while redeemed coupons totaled 13,872, Ishida said.

From Dec. 29 to Jan. 4, 1,469 coupons were redeemed for analog-to-digital converter boxes, “;the highest week for redemption.”;

The FCC estimates that 22,000 Hawaii homes receive TV over the air. They may have multiple sets so there is no way to know how many over-the-air households are now DTV-ready, said Ishida and Chris Leonard, president of the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters.

Local amateur radio clubs were ready to help consumers install converter boxes, but the national organization nixed the plan citing liability concerns. HAM radio operators are assisting the FCC in other ways, Ishida said.

Five other community organizations have received microgrants of up to $3,000 to install converter boxes for residents, particularly the elderly and disabled, Ishida said.

“;The Collegiate Ministry of the Hawaii Baptist Churches are out doing installations as we speak,”; he said yesterday. He was to train the Pearl City High School Boys' Soccer Team Parents last night.

“;It seems small-townish ... but I really miss that being on the mainland. I'm delighted, it feels really local,”; said Ishida, originally from Hawaii.

Residents needing installation help can make a reservation at 541-2388.