Survey: 6 in 10 Americans know about the DTV transition

As late as February of this year, only 59 percent of Americans were aware of next year's slated transition from analog to digital TV, according to a survey by Frank N. Magid Associates.

With the change about to happen on February 19, 2009, these results show a big jump from a similar survey by the same company six months before, when merely 34% of Americans had heard about the transition.

Still, though, 41% remain totally clueless about the pending advent of digital-only TV.

The findings were slightly better, actually, among "over-the-air-only" households that only have analog TV sets without cable or satellite service. In those households, only 37% were unaware of the transition.

Also on a relatively positive note, a similar survey undertaken by Consumer Reports in January showed that only 28% of those with at least one analog TV set were completely unaware of the upcoming change to digital.

But Magid's survey results also came up with the alarming finding that the proportion of Americans who erroneously believe the transition means "all TV programs will be available in high definition" actually rose from 23% to 29% in the six months between Magid's two polls.

In a written statement, Magid credited the efforts of both the US government and "individuals committed to educating consumers" for the overall increases in awareness. But it seems to only stand to reason that actual awareness levels might be lower than those reflected by Magid, since those surveys are conducted online among consumers who also access the Internet.

Moreover, so far, the US government's educational efforts seem to have revolved largely around materials posted on the Federal Communications Commission Web site.

To do a better job of reaching television viewers with accurate information, maybe the government and other consumer educators should try making more use of TV shows and commercials, too.

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