• Kyodo

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The government will step up efforts from mid-June to get viewers to shift from analog to digital TVs before the nation’s broadcasts all go digital on July 24, officials said Thursday.

As of April 30, there were roughly 770,000 households that hadn’t undergone the conversion to digital TVs, tuners and antennas, although less than 50 days remain until analog broadcasts halt in 44 prefectures, the officials at the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry said.

The three prefectures of Miyagi, Fukushima and Iwate were exempted from the shift, since their economies and infrastructure were severely damaged by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

In mid-June, the ministry will set up more than 1,000 inquiry counters across Japan where staff from the ministry’s “digital support centers” will answer questions on such matters as what type of tuners are necessary and how to operate the remote controls for digital TVs. Many elderly find the controls too complicated to operate, they said.

Masahiko Imamura, chief of the digital support center in Tokyo, said it has been difficult to cover all the households to the point where they can identify the elderly single-person households, which are finding it difficult to prepare for the shift.

Starting July 1, NHK, and commercial broadcasters will join the effort by projecting a “countdown” window showing the number of days remaining until they stop airing analog programs.

But the ministry is also calling on viewers to remain alert against growing scams based on the switch to digital broadcasting.

The ministry had received reports of 67 scams by May, in which fraudsters disguised as antenna installation experts disappear after receiving advance payment, the officials said.

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