Mexico to Give Away Hi-Def Televisions for Digital Transition

The Mexican government plans to provide free high-definition televisions to low-income households to speed along its transition to digital broadcasts.

The project is starting with a pilot program in Tamaulipas state to distribute 120,000 TVs from two suppliers, Foxconn Technology Group and Diamond Electronics, the Communications and Transportation Ministry said yesterday in a statement. In May, the government will 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 (TLEVICPO) and TV Azteca SAB can stop using analog airwaves. That 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 U.S. government’s subsidy program during its 2009 digital transition.

The 24-inch TVs 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 TVs nationwide, the Social Development Ministry includes millions of Mexicans on its rolls for various services.

To contact the reporter on this story: Crayton Harrison in New York at tharrison5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Sarah Rabil at srabil@bloomberg.net

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