With DTV Near, 2.8 Million Households Still Unprepared

Just days before the June 12 transition to digital TV, 2.8 million households, or 2.5 percent of the TV market, are still unprepared. According to Nielsen’s final update released Wednesday (June 10), the new tally is half of the 5.8 million that were unprepared in February when the government postponed the transition by three months.

For an update on the transition, the National Association of Broadcasters is holding a press conference Thursday (June 11). Scheduled to discuss last-minute details will be Richard Wiley, former Federal Communications Commission Chairman and moderator; Anna Gomez, deputy assistant secretary, Commerce Department; Paul Karpowicz, vice chair of the NAB TV Board and president of Meredith Broadcasting; Kyle McSlarrow, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association; William Lake, digital TV transition coordinator for the FCC; and several others.

The Federal Communications Commission held a similar briefing last week.

Problems will no doubt occur, but they are likely to be concentrated in markets that are least prepared for the transition. Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.M. is the least ready with 7.58 percent of TV homes completely unprepared. There are also several of the nation’s largest markets that have percentages of unprepared TV households in the 4 to 5 percent range, including Dallas-Ft. Worth, Seattle-Tacoma, Los Angeles and Phoenix.

How those percentages will translate into TV ratings is the big unknown. Some broadcasters are layering on their own initiatives to help viewers make the switch. For example, in Los Angeles, the TV stations have set up their own phone bank to help viewers through the transition.