Campaign to prepare viewers for digital TV signal

The 36 percent of television viewers who are not hooked up to cable will be the target of a campaign to prepare them for the end of analog transmission Dec. 15, 2017.

The Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Telecomunicaciones plans to launch the campaign Saturday, which happens to be the World Day of Television.

The campaign seeks to alert those viewers not hooked to cable that they can continue to get the television signal over the air even when it becomes digital. The campaign promotes the use of a converter that changes the digital signal to analog.

The ministry said it is working to have the customs agency eliminate the current 14 percent import duty on the devices. Of course those hooked to a cable or satellite system already have digital, and they will not be affected by the change.

The campaign will include television ads and interviews as well as publicity on the back of buses, mainly in areas with the highest amount of  reception via the airwaves. That has been determined to be Guápiles, Limón, Pérez Zeledón, Puntarenas, Guanacaste and San Carlos.

Emilio Arias, vice minister of Telecomunicaciones, said that officials are concerned that they may violate fundamental rights by preventing viewers from watching television.

Costa Rica has chosen to adopt the Japanese-Brazilian digital system, ISDB-Tb.

The ministry said that a certain amount of education will be presented to importers and distributors of television sets.

Also planned is affixing some sort of label to television sets that meet technical standards to receive the local signals.

The change is coming at a time when more and more viewers are watching signals transmitted over the Internet. Some of the local stations already are available via Internet. Then there are a host of movie, sports and similar entertainment channels.

The technology is moving so fast that local television stations might decide to halt transmissions over the air, which are expensive.

So far the ministry has not announced any plans to subsidize those who need to purchase a converter, but concern for so-called persons in vulnerable conditions has been voiced repeatedly.

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