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FCC, CEA Work Toward Analog Cutoff Education Program

Washington — While most consumers who have seen and experienced digital television are now saying more than ever, “I want my HDTV,” Jonathan Adelstein, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner stresses that now is the time to get the word out about the analog TV cutoff, which will occur Feb. 19, 2009.

Adelstein’s comments came on Tuesday during his policy keynote during the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) Entertainment Technology Policy Summit, where CEA also announced its members have agreed to a voluntary education program on the issue.

Adelstein said the time is now “to get the word out nationwide. About 80 million analog sets could go dark without a digital converter box. We need a coordinated campaign between government and industry to get the word out … or else there will be a tsunami of outrage.”

He noted, “Our mission should be to educate consumers. We have a hard date, so this is the time!”

Adelstein said that consumers are buying analog big screen sets thinking they are a great bargain, “but they won’t be in a few years.” A concerted effort has to be taken up by cable, satellite and broadcast TV networks to educate their viewers about the impending switch, and the CE industry must participate too. “There is plenty to be done in the next 2 ½ years before the transition.” The education program push should also include “billboard and TV ads and information on the Web. We have to put politics and self interest aside and get federal, state and local governments to also get the word out.” Adelstein said that CEA made a “great step” in announcing a voluntary effort to help inform consumers about the nation’s transition from analog to digital television (DTV). The effort will include a voluntary labeling program for TVs that have only analog TV tuners, as well as general consumer education about the transition to digital.

In a prepared statement, CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro said, “We have reached an important milestone in the transition to DTV with the adoption by Congress of the Feb. 17, 2009, date for the switch over to all digital broadcasting. CEA has long supported a cutoff date, but our job is not yet done. CEA and its members are now focused on continuing to educate consumers about this exciting new era in television. The CEA executive board asked the video division board to draft and agree upon voluntary language for a consumer advisory label to help inform consumers about television sets that are equipped with only an analog (NTSC) tuner. The language agreed upon is as follows:

“Notice: This TV has only an ‘analog’ broadcast tuner so will require a converter box after Feb. 17, 2009, to receive over-the-air broadcasts with an antenna, because of the nation’s transition to digital broadcasting on that date, as required by federal law. (It should continue to work as before with cable and satellite TV systems, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players and similar products.)”

The Consumer Advisory Label will be placed prominently on analog-only TVs. CE manufacturers also will agree to include such language permanently and conspicuously on the outside of the retail packaging of analog-only TV. CEA and TV manufacturers are working with retailers and others on implementation dates and overall DTV consumer education, in order to have the broadest impact. By March 2007 all TVs sold in the United States will feature a digital tuner. CEA said it will continue its other education programs on the issue. Resources can be found at