Mexico giving away TVs

MEXICO CITY - The Mexican government plans to give away high-definition television sets to low-income households to speed the transition to digital broadcasting.

The project is starting with a pilot programme in Tamaulipas state to distribute 120,000 free TV sets from two suppliers, Foxconn Technology Group and Diamond Electronics, the Communications and Transportation Ministry said on Friday.

In May, the government plans to solicit bids for nationwide TV distribution.

The TV giveaway is part of Mexico's plan to help viewers switch to digital signals so broadcasters such as Grupo Televisa SAB and TV Azteca SAB can stop using analogue airwaves.

The change will free up wireless spectrum that the government can reassign for other uses, such as wireless internet access.

Mexico had previously planned to hand out converters to families that don't have digital tuners, mimicking the US government’s subsidy programme during its 2009 digital transition.

The 24-inch TV sets to be distributed in Tamaulipas have low energy consumption, high picture and sound quality and HDMI and USB ports to connect with other devices and the internet, the communications ministry said.

The government will use data from the Social Development Ministry to determine who receives the TVs, sending out notifications to families to inform them when and where they can pick them up, the communications ministry said.

While it didn't say how many households would get TV sets nationwide, the Social Development Ministry includes millions of Mexicans on its rolls for various services.

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