WASHINGTON, D.C. - With only three weeks left until the nationwide digital television (DTV) transition on June 12, many local broadcasters will be participating in coordinated DTV "soft tests" Thursday. These tests are designed to alert analog viewers who are unprepared for the impending transition that they will lose service once the transition occurs unless they act promptly to get ready.

A "soft test" simulates to some extent what unprepared viewers will experience when the DTV transition occurs. Instead of completely cutting off the analog signal, during the soft test broadcasters will interrupt the regular programming of viewers receiving analog signals to warn them the interruption indicates they are not prepared for the transition. Such viewers - other than those connected to a subscription TV service such as cable or satellite (which in some cases still utilize a broadcaster's analog signal) - must take immediate action to avoid a complete loss of service on June 12. Digital broadcasts are available now and will not be interrupted by the soft tests. The length of the interruptions will vary by station but generally will run between two and five minutes.

Nationwide, Nielsen estimates that about 3.3 million households - 2.9 percent of U.S. households with TVs - remained unready for the transition as of May 10. "The soft test is a wake-up call to consumers telling them that the time to get ready for the DTV transition is now," said Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. "We don't want anyone to be left without the news, information and entertainment they need and enjoy. If you're having trouble getting ready, you can get help right in your community and even in your own home by calling 1-888-CALL-FCC."

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