DTV study: Most broadcasters are ready, most consumers aren't

According to recent survey results, most consumers are still virtually clueless about the upcoming DTV transition. More importantly, perhaps, it appears a lot of broadcasters won't even be ready for it either.

Although an unspecified percentage of broadcasters think they'll be ready for the nationwide transition to digital TV a year from now, most consumers are still in the dark about what will -- or what won't -- be happening on their TV screens.

That's the general upshot of two recent surveys on the subject of DTV migration.

As every BetaNews reader should know by now, on February 19, 2008, all television broadcasters in the US are supposed to put an end to their analog TV broadcasts and transmitting digital TV signals on newly allocated frequencies.

In a written statement released today, Harris Corporation -- a major producer of TV equipment and other electronics -- said that, according to results of a recent survey, "U.S. broadcasters expect to meet this major milestone as part of their ongoing transition."

Also, although no timetables were provided, Harris' press release spells out the exact percentages of broadcasters planning to provide consumers with more HDTV content (66%), as well as programming over cell phones and other handheld devices (28%), for example.

Curiously, however, the news release fails to specify how many of the broadcasters surveyed believe they'll be able to meet next year's milestone, and press contacts listed on the release were initially unavailable to answer questions on this key point.

Meanwhile, at industry events such as the recent Sports Video Gameplan (SVG) Summit, some experts have called into question the ability of smaller TV broadcasters, in particular, to enable their facilities right now for HDTV and other manifestations of DTV.

It's abundantly clear from results of another study, produced by the Consumer Reports National Research Center, that most consumers aren't really prepared yet to make the switch to DTV anyway, regardless of what the broadcasters do.
On January 30, Consumer Reports made the startling observation that "seventy-four percent of respondents who said they were ready for the upcoming transition had serious misceptions of its impact."

Moreover, according to Consumer Reports' survey data (PDF available here) 28% of consumers who will have at least one TV affected by the upcoming transition are not aware of it at all.

A number of different misconceptions are running rampant among those who do know about the broadcasters' conversion from analog to digital, according to Consumer Reports' findings. For instance, only 55% of consumers with at least one analog TV think they will be impacted by the change. Nearly one-quarter of them, or 24%, believe that everyone will have to "throw away their analog sets."

More than half of this group (58%) believe that all TVs wil need a conversion box to function properly -- a misconception almost as prevalent, at 51%, among a smaller segment of consumers who have only digital TVs in their households.

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