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Rolling out the free TVs in Coahuila

Program will give away 13.8 million TVs in preparation for switch from analog to digital

They’re continuing to roll out free TVs in the north this week with 1,800 having been delivered to lower-income residents in Ramos Arizpe, Coahuila, out of a total of 3,800 destined for that municipality.

Next up will be Torreón, where the Communications and Transportation Secretariat will hand out 35,000, followed by Arteaga and Saltillo.

The 24-inch sets are being given to people with limited resources who are registered with the Social Development Secretariat as the government prepares for next year’s conversion to digital television service. The transition is expected to be completed by December 31, 2015.

Communications officials say the switch will save families 1.6 billion pesos annually in electricity costs, allow them to enjoy better quality picture and sound and give them a means of accessing the Internet.

In total, 13.8 million TV sets will be given away for a total cost to the state of some 27 billion pesos, given a cost per set of 2,000 pesos.

The job could have been done by distributing decoders instead at a much reduced cost of about 600 pesos each, which was the original plan. A decoder converts the digital signal to analog, allowing it to be viewed on the older, analog sets.

Authorities defend the television giveaway by saying it will improve digital literacy among Mexican families because the new sets will give them Internet access.

But for that to be feasible, argues Agustín Ramírez Ramírez of the Mexican Right to Information Association, another 10 billion pesos will have to be spent on keyboards and broadband Internet service.

Cynics argue that the timing couldn’t better for giving away something that most people can use: 2015 is an election year. To reinforce the cynics’ doubts, the sets come in a box bearing the current administration’s slogan, Mover a México (Moving Mexico).

To get your free TV, just call 018002867427 to register. Deliveries are being carried out region by region over the next year.

Source: El Informador (sp)

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