NAB, CEA Bow 'Digital TV Zone' Education Program

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National Association of Broadcasters' president & CEO Eddie Fritts and CEA president & CEO Gary Shapiro officially announced the launch of Digital TV Zone, a consumer education and awareness program for the technology at CES.

The goal of the multi-tiered campaign is the awareness and understanding of digital TV. The centerpiece of the campaign includes a pilot program that recognizes the four cities as "Digital TV Zones" for their efforts in embracing the technology.

Shapiro said, "By joining with NAB, CEA will reach a wider audience of consumers with a comprehensive message about the Digital TV reality."

Digital TV Zone activities are expected to kick-off officially in late January when the television spot as well as details of the other program elements will be unveiled in each of the first three participating cities, Indianapolis, Portland and Houston. The fourth Digital TV Zone — Washington — is slated to launch mid-year with more to follow.

Fritts said, "These cities are diverse regional centers where all local, network-affiliated stations have made the transition to digital broadcasting, and where there is a strong retail commitment to digital television marketing and sales."

The program will bring together local broadcasters, retailers, and manufacturers to create opportunities for consumers to experience Digital TV, he said.

"Digital TV landmarks will be set up in high-traffic, public areas like malls, airports, museums, libraries and other local government buildings where consumers can see and learn about digital television," Fritts said. "We will also hold "watch parties" with local community leaders and invite the public to attend tours at local television stations to see what the transition is all about."

The program will select "Digital Families in each Zone. These families be given integrated high-definition TV sets. We are asking them to chronicle their Digital TV watching experiences and help spread the word about all that digital television can deliver," Fritts said.

The Digital TV Zone program will also include a significant advertising program in each community. Fritts added that local broadcasters are prepared to contribute substantial advertising time to drive consumer awareness. Manufacturers and retailers will have opportunities to tie-in their Digital TV promotions with the Zone campaign, including participation in the advertising program.

Fritts estimated that by May of this year, he expects that at least one digital signal will be available in markets that serve more than 95 percent of TV households. The number of HDTV shows doubled between 2000 and 2001 and viewers can expect much more high-definition programming in 2002, including portions of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

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