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Mexico says it is on track to fully convert the nation’s homes to all-digital viewing. It has already donated 4.6 million digital TV sets (at a rate of 30,000-40,000 per day) to poorer families, and says it estimates about another 10 million will be given away. Mexico wants to switch off its analogue transmissions by December 31st.
Recipients get a modest 24” digital TV. Those lining up must be in receipt of welfare payments, either Liconsa (a subsidised milk scheme) or Prospera (a national food programme).
The Mexican government says each set costs about $145, and it favours brand new sets because they consumer just 40 Watts of electricity. An old analogue set operates at around 320-340 Watts, while a digital converter box, while working more efficiently in terms of the number of channels on offer, would still leave the analogue set burning more than 300 Watts, and Mexico is one of the world’s most enthusiastic TV users where the set is usually turned on all day and well into the night.
However, there still remains the dilemma of what to do with the old set. The Mexican government has been criticised for not demanding that householders swap the old TV for a new unit. The risk now is that viewers will simply transfer the old set into a second room, buy a cheap digital decoder and end up using more power than previously.