DTV Help
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In 2009, television stations across the country will complete a change to digital broadcasting. They will turn off their old analog transmitters and viewers who don’t have cable or satellite will need a converter box…or their TVs will go dark. Volunteers are making sure everyone stays “tuned in.” Kim Riemland reports.     

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(Locator: Houston, Texas)

In the switch to digital television, some viewers might lose an important lifeline because of technical difficulties.

The Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston, Pastor, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church: “There are pockets of people, either because of age or infirmity, that simply do not have the same opportunities.”

Concerned that some elderly homebound residents could not afford or install converter boxes…

Helen Stewart, 92-year-old: “It means a lot. It’s been very, it keeps me company.”

…members of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Houston collected hundreds of government coupons to buy the converters.

Volunteer: “You guys will go out into teams of two to three.”

Then they went to homes to install the boxes.

Volunteer: “Some pretty good channels on there.”

Fuzzy pictures became crystal-clear images with DTV.

Katherine Walker, 91-year-old: “Oh, I think it looks much clearer and I can hear it good, too.”

The goal is to install 3,000 boxes so seniors won’t miss their favorite programs.

Waldean Williams, 73-year-old: “I love news and I love educational programs, also.”

Helen Stewart, Converter Box Recipient: “I like all the sports, I’m very fond of them. I stay up sometimes a little too late at night.”

Harold Williams, 60-year-old: “I like TV, I like the wrestling.”

The Rev. Dr. Jim Bankston: “If they were unable to view television, they would not only miss the entertainment benefit of it, but crucial news reports. In Houston, we’re very familiar with hurricanes.”

And the volunteers give the program high ratings, too.

Jimmy Bergeron, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church: “What impressed me the most were the smiles on the clients' faces.”

Katherine Walker: “I wasn’t able to really buy the box. And I sure did appreciate it. I’m very happy with it.”


Not only do the pictures look better, but most viewers will also get more channels on digital television. The converter installations were coordinated by an interfaith group of churches and Volunteer Houston.

For more information on the switch to digital television and coupons available to help purchase converter boxes, visit

To reach St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, call 409-252-4396.

Posted: Jan. 28, 2009