The news about the digital transition in February 2009 is getting out, but half of the TV-watching public is still unaware and needs to be educated about the event. Awareness among those most affected – those who depend entirely on over-the-air signals – is the lowest of all the groups, at 31 percent, according to a survey from CTAM Pulse (full report here).

CTAM is a member of the DTV Transition Coalition, the organization that is taking responsibility for educating the public about the transition.

The CTAM survey reveals that only half (48 percent) of U.S. households are aware of the digital TV transition. Awareness among customers of cable services breaks down this way: among broadband subs, it’s 45 percent; among digital cable service, it’s 40 percent; and among basic cable service, it’s 39 percent.

Though any TV connected to a pay-TV service will be unaffected by the digital transition, the CTAM survey suggests that it is still imperative to educate subscribers.

The majority of households that currently receive cable, satellite or any other TV service have all their TV sets connected to some type of TV service, but 25 percent – or 23.3 million homes – said they also have at least one or more “unconnected” sets in their homes. Two-fifths (40 percent) of households with an unconnected TV set said they use those sets to watch broadcast TV programs only.

Twenty-two percent use them to watch DVDs, and 16 percent use them for video games.

Forty-seven percent of all survey respondents said they do not know when the digital transition will occur, and 26 percent believe it will take place sometime other than 2009.

“In the months ahead, cable companies will reassure their customers that all connected analog sets will continue to display the new broadcast digital TV signals seamlessly. In addition, companies will be aggressively communicating with all consumers to alert them to the transition, help them understand what will happen in 2009, and [tell them] how they can benefit from this further transition to digital television technology,” said Char Beales, president and CEO of CTAM.

Consumers can learn more about how the transition affects them at a Web site established jointly by CTAM and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association (NCTA).