Local group seeks members for TV’s future in Quay

By Chelle Delaney: Quay County Sun

Thanks to the UHF-TV Users Association, households in Quay County receive television reception even if they don�t have TV programming coming into their homes from cable or satellite dish.
Many satellite users also receive network programming from the association�s translators that broadcast TV signals to the area, said Martinia Flint, who is the group�s technical advisor and responsible for maintenance.
“If you live in sight of Tucumcari Mountain … you’ll get reception,” said Doyle Frasier, the group’s president.
The association is responsible for keeping TV signals emanating from atop Tucumcari Mountain to houses in Tucumcari, throughout the county�s rural areas and, in some cases, beyond the Quay County line. TV Reception to homes is made possible through rabbit ears or antennas on rooftops or towers.
And today, the association, which was formally organized in 1964, is preparing for the latest wave of television technology, HD TV or high definition TV.
It is also struggling with a dwindling membership, hence a low treasury and lack of knowledge among the public about its importance in maintaining TV reception in the county, Flint said.
In the last several years, “the budget has not increased any,” Frasier said. “We’re having to dip into reserves. We need some more people to step up to the plate. Without it, then there will be no TV except for satellites and cable.”
�At one time we had more than 600 members,� Flint said. �We estimate that between 5 percent to 10 percent of the people who get their reception from the association�s translators are members of the association.�
Among the association’s early pioneers were John Kelt, the Thomas brothers, James Adams and Kay Bugg, said Joan Farrow, a member of the board.
“People went door-to-door to collect money to build the towers. They also went to Amarillo to talk to the TV stations there to get them to help,” Farrow said.
With a 100 or more channels available today with the flick of a remote, it�s hard to imagine, but when TV first arrived in Tucumcari, there was only one channel, NBC, Farrow said. “When we got all three channels, NBC, CBS and ABC, that was fantastic. And we got to see Elvis.”
Most people don’t even realize that there is an association that keeps the towers up and the signals going, Frazier said.
Dues are $30 a year, which is less than some people pay for one month of cable or satellite, said Jean Cory, the board’s treasurer.
In the old days, “We used to just turn off the signal. Of course, I’d hide for a month after that and I wouldn’t answer my phone either,” said Flint with a smile.
The association is hoping that its membership will increase and people will pay the $30 in annual dues because it expects that modifications will have to be made to the towers to receive the digital signals, Flint said.
Currently, the Public Broadcasting Station out of Portales, KNEW, is simulcasting the new High Definition (HD) signal as well as the traditional signal. And, if you own a HD-ready television, that signal is also transmitted from the tower on Tucumcari Mountain.
There are also converters that can be purchased for current televisions to receive the HD signals. And on Jan. 1, the federal government is offering a rebate program to households which have to purchase converters.
In the future, Flint said he expected more improved and less costly HD systems for broadcast and reception to be on the market. “Already the cost has come down, and refinements are being made all the time,” he said.
So at this time, the association does not expect to have to make improvements to its tower until it gets closer to January 2009, the government’s target date for HD-TV to be universal.
But it’s also hoped that the association’s membership will increase so that it can make improvements to its tower, Flint said.
UHF-TV Users Associatoin
l To be a member of the association, dues are $30 a year.
l Membership dues can be paid at:
Bob�s Budget Pharmacy
Tucumcari Animal Hospital
Mail to:
UHF TV Association
P.O. Box 187
Tucumcari, NM 88401
l Board members are:
Catherine Bugg
Doyle Frasier
Jean Cory
Joan Farrow
Martinia Flint
Grover Garrett
Bob McClelland
The UHF Users Association’s next meeting is at 6 p.m. on Jan. 14 at Dean�s Restaurant, the board will elect new officers. All who are interested are invited to attend.
Feds to launch converter rebate program Jan. 1
The U.S. Commerce Department�s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced Tuesday that eight of the largest consumer electronics retailers ��Best Buy, Circuit City, Kmart, RadioShack, Sam’s Club, Sears, Target, Wal-Mart � have been certified to participate in the TV Converter Box Coupon Program along with more than 100 other retailers, representing more than 14,000 stores throughout the nation, according to an NTIA press release.
Consumers may purchase converter boxes to keep their analog televisions working with over-the-air broadcasts after Feb. 17, 2009, when full power television stations convert to all-digital signals. �
�NTIA thanks these certified retailers who will participate in the TV Converter Box Coupon Program and we look forward to working with them in 2008 and 2009,� said Acting NTIA Administrator Meredith Attwell Baker.
�The TV Converter Box Coupon Program is on schedule and will be ready to take consumers� coupon requests starting Jan. 1, 2008, as directed by Congress, to ensure the success of the nation�s transition to digital broadcasting.�
Additional TV Converter Box Coupon Program updates include:
l� Consumer-friendly name and logo tested nationwide by targeted audiences (see attachment);
� Converters by DigitalSTREAM, Zenith, Magnavox, and Philco have been certified for purchase with coupons and more are expected in the next several weeks;
� The program name, �TV Converter Box Coupon Program,� and consumer-tested brand will help television viewers know that this is an official Government program;
� A one-page application only requesting name, address, one or two coupons and if the household subscribes to cable, satellite, or pay TV service (see attachment);
� Coupons planned for distribution to consumers beginning Feb. 17, 2008;
� Starting Jan. 1, 2008, households can request coupons when the program�s toll free number, Web site, fax and P.O. Box go live.
� More than 140 governmental and national organizations will work to ensure vulnerable communities are not left without broadcast television because of a lack of information about the transition.�
Examples include:
� The NAACP and the Native American Journalists Association;
� NTIA is working closely with the National Association of Broadcasters, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association, the Consumer Electronics Association and the Digital TV Transition Coalition, which consists of more than 180 national organizations and industry partners providing public service announcements and consumer education worth nearly $1 billion;
� The Veterans Administration (VA) will work with NTIA to ensure that digital transition information and Coupon Program applications are available in 155 VA hospitals and 1,000 clinics, and the VA will inform 240,000 VA employees; 1 million VA volunteers; and more than 1 million veterans not served by the VA about the transition;
� The American Library Association�s 65,000 members will work with NTIA to inform the public and librarians about the digital transition and will work with librarians to post information about the Coupon Program at their libraries and on their Web sites; and
l Univision has announced an extensive campaign to educate Hispanic TV viewers about the digital transition and the Coupon Program. NTIA is working closely with Univision to ensure its ads are timed appropriately for the distribution of coupons to the public.��
For more information about the TV Converter Box Coupon Program, go to www.ntia.doc.gov/dtvcoupon and for more information about the entire digital television transition, go to www.dtv
transition.org.
Background and how to get a rebate coupon
The Digital Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 requires full-power television stations to cease analog broadcasts and switch to digital after Feb. 17, 2009. �The Act also authorizes NTIA to create The TV Converter Box Coupon Program.
Digital television provides consumers with a clearer picture, more programming, and frees up spectrum for advanced wireless broadband services and interoperable communications among emergency first responders.
By Feb. 17, 2009, consumers need to look at each analog television set in their home that is not connected to cable, satellite, or other pay television service and make a decision:�����
� They may connect it to cable, satellite, or pay television service;
� They may replace it with a TV with a digital tuner or
� They may keep it working with a TV converter box.
� Between� Jan.� 1,� 2008� and� March� 31,� 2009,� households� can� request� coupons� while� supplies� last� in� one� of� four� ways:
�� Apply online at� www.dtv2009.gov.
This website will be active on Jan. 1.
�� Call� the� Coupon� Program� 24-hour� hotline� 1-888-DTV-2009� (1-888-388-2009),� TTY� 1-877-530-2634
� Mail� a� coupon� application� to:��� PO� BOX� 2000,� Portland,� OR� 97208-2000
� Fax� a� coupon� application� to� 1-877-DTV-4ME2� (1-877-388-4632)
NTIA will provide consumers a list of eligible converters and participating retailers when coupons are mailed and on its Website.� Coupons expire 90 days after they are mailed, and only one coupon can be used to purchase each coupon-eligible converter box.
NTIA encourages the voluntary participation of consumer electronics retailers. �The application deadline to become a certified retailer is March 31, 2008.
NTIA is responsible for the development of the domestic and international telecommunications policy of the Executive Branch.