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CTAM Finds DTV Awareness Lacking

Alexandria, Va. — A study by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) found that despite growing awareness of the digital TV transition, Americans that still receive TV broadcasts exclusively over the air continue to rank among the least aware and the most at risk to be impacted by the Feb. 17, 2009, analog shutoff deadline.

The CTAM Pulse nationwide survey canvassed more than 1,000 U.S. consumers last month. The association is an arm of the cable television industry and a member of the multi-industry DTV Transition Coalition, which was created to educate consumers about the digital transition.

According to the study:

  • 48 percent of U.S. households are aware of the digital TV transition, compared to just 29 percent from a survey taken in July 2005;
  • groups most familiar with the transition are subscribers to broadband services (45 percent), digital cable service (40 percent) and basic cable service (39 percent);
  • 17 percent of survey respondents — representing more than 19 million homes — don’t have any televisions connected to a video service provider;
  • households that don’t have any televisions connected to a video service provider were least familiar with the transition at 31 percent; and
  • 47 percent of respondents said they do not know when the digital transition will occur, and 26 percent believe it will take place sometime other than the designated year 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 how they can benefit from this further transition to digital television technology,” stated Char Beals, CTAM president and CEO.

Other findings of the survey that will help guide cable’s consumer education campaign on the DTV transition include:

Of those who are aware of the DTV transition, 38 percent said they’d learned about it from TV, 26 percent had read of it in the newspaper and 20 percent had heard about it from friends or family.

Fifty percent of households that watch TV exclusively over the air said they don’t know where to turn for information about the transition.

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 — and therefore are unlikely to need digital-to-analog converters to keep their analog TV sets working. However, 25 percent of these “connected” households — 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 television set said they use those sets to watch broadcast TV programs only; 22 percent use them to watch DVDs, and 16 percent use them for video games.

After Feb. 17, 2009, the nation’s broadcast television stations will begin broadcasting exclusively in digital. This means that any consumer receiving broadcast TV over the air on an older analog TV set must take some action for that TV to continue receiving programs from the local TV stations.

Those options include obtaining a new digital-to-analog converter; subscribing to cable TV or other multi-channel video service, or replacing the analog TV set with a new one equipped with a digital TV tuner.

The DTV Transition Coalition provides information on the transition at

In addition, 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) at

Specific details on the U.S. government’s coupon program to subsidize the consumer purchase of digital-to-analog converters, which starts in January 2008, is available from a toll-free number established by the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, (888) DTV-2009.