Digital Television: who’s ready?

image source: marcelstvmuseum

I admit that I watch very little television on a traditional set. Most of my viewing is on my laptop, via WebTV or DVD. However, millions of people in the US do watch on traditional sets. On February 17, 2009, analog television signal will be turned off, and over the air television signals will be strictly digital, and analog televisions will go black. The impending switch over to digital makes this study by the American of Public Television Stations on the public awareness of transition more than a little disturbing.

Although it was study was done in last January, it seems to be getting attention from the media and government only now. Groups including the AARP, National Hispanic Media Coalition and the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights presented their case last week.

22 million US households still get this television signals over the air. Of these households, a ghastly 66% or 14.5 million households are not aware of the switch over. Unfortunately, people who do not know tend to be marginalized groups, such as those respondents aged over 65. Of this group, 24% of them received this programming over tha air (versus 19% of younger households.) Further, of those 65+ aged viewers, only 17% of them owned a digital television.

A huge push to education the country needs to be done in the next 18 months. I hope that broadcasters and government agencies comprehend the magnitude of the problem. has information coverage the transition, however, the obvious problem is that you need to know to go there. It does have information on program which runs from Jan. 1, 2008, to March 31, 2009, where U.S. households can request up to two coupons, worth $40 each,to buy digital-to-analog converter boxes.

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I liked Sen. Clair McCaskill (D-Mo.) response to John Kneuer of the Commerce Department and Cathy Seidel of the FCC:
“They’re not going to call you. They’re going to call me, and they’re going to be mad. When people start calling in, I’m giving them your numbers.”

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