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Digital TV set-top boxes should be free: foundation

TAIPEI--The Consumers' Foundation urged the government yesterday to offer free set-top boxes to people, particularly the economically disadvantaged, as part of a policy to complete the transition to fully digital TV broadcasting in Taiwan by June 30.

Because of limited government subsidies for the digital switchover, some economically disadvantaged families, including elderly people in rural areas, no longer have a working TV set since the analog signal in their areas has been switched off, said the foundation's Chairman Chen Chih-yi.

The National Communications Commission (NCC) made two proposals in February for subsidizing the digital switchover — one to give each household in the country a free set-top converter box at a total cost of NT$12.2 billion (US$407 million), and the other to offer the boxes only to low income households, at an estimated total cost of NT$260 million the foundation said.

The government chose the cheaper option, Chen said at a press conference titled “Why my television goes black!”

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