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Consumers dazed and confused about digital TV transition

Thu, 01/31/2008 - 7:23am
Mike Robuck

According to a new survey, 74 percent of consumers know about the switch to all-digital signals next year, but those consumers have serious misconceptions about the impact.

The survey, from Consumer Reports National Research Center, also found that more than one-third, or 36 percent, of citizens living in TV households are entirely unaware of the FCC’s mandate to phase out all-analog signals by Feb. 17, 2009.

“Confusion about the digital television transition will cost consumers a lot of money for equipment they may not want or need," said Joel Kelsey, a policy analyst for Consumers Union, the non-profit publisher of Consumer Reports. "Based on these survey results, it is now clear that the government and every media company that profits from people watching television must do whatever it takes to make sure consumers will keep getting broadcast TV without paying a dime more than necessary."

The federal government has allocated $5 million in public education funding to the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA), while the FCC has requested $1.5 million for the same purpose. This is in contrast to the $400 million the U.K. plans to spend on its public education campaign, Consumer Reports said.

According to the study, even among those consumers who are aware of the switch to digital broadcasts, there is still widespread confusion about what it will require of them: 58 percent believe all TVs will need a digital converter box to function, 48 percent believe that only digital TVs will work after 2009, and nearly 23 percent believe that they will need to throw away all of their analog TVs.

Consumer Reports said it found “a staggering lack of awareness and confusion among consumers in regards to the digital TV transition.” Of those consumers who will have at least one TV affected, 61 percent incorrectly believe that they are not affected, do not know that they are affected or are completely unaware of the transition, while 33 percent of consumers who will have no functioning TV after the deadline are completely unaware of the transition.

More Broadband Direct:

• DirecTV, TNS join forces on audience measurement service 

• CBS signs up for TiVo’s data service 

• Consumers dazed and confused about digital TV transition 

• Comcast hires financial exec, expands voice service in Houston 

• Internet out in India, Middle East 

• Broadband Briefs for 1/31/08

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