Consumers Are Clueless About DTV Transition
"Consumer Reports" says that 74 percent of survey respondents know that the transition is coming, but aren't quite sure what that means.
Many are unaware of the DTV transition, or ready to spend money on unnecessary add-ons.
January 30, 2008 by Rachel Cericola

When you go nestle into your couch or La-Z-Boy tonight and tune into “American Idol” or the hours of election and/or Super Bowl pre-game coverage, think of the little people—those who haven’t yet experienced the magic of HDTV.

Yes, there are plenty of them out there, and apparently they don’t have a clue about the upcoming digital transition. Consumer Reports just finished a study that says that many have misconceptions about what’s coming in 2009.

The study shows that 74 percent of survey respondents did know about the transition. However, 36 percent of Americans living with TVs didn’t have a clue that anything was coming. Other interesting figures:

  • 58 percent of consumers aware of the transition believe all TVs will need a digital converter box.
  • 24 percent believe they will need to throw away their analog TV sets.
  • 33 percent that are completely unaffected by the transition plan to buy a converter box.
  • 31 percent plan to buy a new DTV set with a built-in digital tuner.
  • 73 percent are unaware of the government coupon created to offset purchasing a converter box.

“Confusion about the digital television transition will cost consumers a lot of money for equipment they may not want or need,” said Joel Kelsey, 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 consumers watching television must do whatever it takes to help consumers keep getting broadcast TV, without paying a dime more than necessary.”

The federal government has allocated $5 million, with $1.5 million in public education funding to the National Telecommunications and Information Association (NTIA) and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), respectively. Overseas, the UK is expecting to spend a whopping $450 million on its public education campaign.

A total of 1,013 interviews were conducted telephone for the survey. The switch to DTV is scheduled for February 17, 2009.

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Rachel Cericola - Contributing Writer
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at

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