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Minorities Show Greater DTV Awareness

Washington — Hispanic and African-American residents showed a significant increase in awareness of the transition to digital television broadcasting, according to the latest poll release by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) Thursday.

The NAB’s national telephone survey of 4,402 households conducted between Sept. 28 and Oct. 5 found 92 percent of Hispanic respondents were aware that broadcast television signals will be switching to an all-digital format, a 4-point jump since NAB’s May survey, the NAB said.

The number was said to equal the national awareness level, which is also at 92 percent. The NAB said it targeted the minority groups in its survey because “minorities, seniors and rural communities have a greater concentration of over-the-air homes, putting these populations at higher risk of losing reception.”

Awareness of the transition was even higher among Spanish-speaking Hispanic households, at 95 percent, up from 89 percent in May, the NAB said. The poll found African-American awareness of the DTV transition also grew to 86 percent, up one point from May.

“Hispanic households have shown dramatic gains in awareness — the largest of any group since we began tracking DTV awareness,” stated Seth Geiger, president of SmithGeiger, the firm hired to conduct the survey. “Overall awareness among African-Americans remains strong, with depth awareness having significantly increased over the past 10 months.”

The NAB said the poll found that both Hispanic and African-American households demonstrated “substantial advances in depth awareness, including knowledge of the transition date and the available options for upgrading to DTV.”

More than half of both Hispanic (52 percent) and African-American (57 percent) respondents could state the correct transition date, marking considerable progress over the past 10 months. By Feb. 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the country must begin broadcasting only in digital.

Among the transition’s most affected minority households — those relying only on over-the-air broadcasts — significantly more are taking advantage of converter boxes, the lowest-cost option for upgrading to DTV.

Among Hispanic broadcast-only households, 69 percent said they have applied for a coupon, shopped for or purchased a converter box. The number is more than double the 29 percent found in May.

Among African-American broadcast-only households, 64 percent said they have applied for a coupon, shopped for or purchased a converter box. That number also doubled from 32 percent in May.

“We are encouraged to see such high levels of awareness among key minority populations,” stated Jonathan Collegio, NAB DTV transition VP. “Broadcasters will continue targeting their outreach efforts to prepare these communities — some of the most at risk of losing reception — for the transition.”

The survey has a margin of sampling error of +/- 2.4 percent.

The NAB said it is conducting a consumer education campaign valued at more than $1 billion to help prepare the public for the DTV transition. Consumers who use antennas to watch television on analog TV sets will be affected by the switch. Over-the-air viewers can upgrade to DTV by either purchasing a low-cost converter box or a digital TV set, or by subscribing to cable, satellite or other pay service.