Study: 64% of U.S. Households Ready for DTV

Nearly two-thirds or 64 percent of U.S. households that rely on free, over-the-air TV, have already taken steps to prepare for the Feb. 17, 2009 switch to digital broadcasting, according to a survey released Thursday (July 10) by the National Association of Broadcasters.

The poll was conducted between March 29 and May 13 with 5,535 broadcast-only homes. To prepare for the DTV switch, respondents said they had learned about or applied for a $40 TV converter box coupon provided by the federal government, or shopped for one. When asked how they would upgrade for DTV, 35 percent said they would buy a converter box using the coupon and 45 percent said they would buy a TV set with a digital tuner.

“The initial phase of the DTV education campaign is clearly making an impact in creating awareness,” said Seth Geiger, president of Smith-Geiger LLC, which conducted the poll for the NAB.

Despite the results, Congress and others are still nervous that many will be left in the dark when the switch takes place. The U.S. House of Representatives last night (July 9) unanimously approved legislation to assist DTV education efforts, enabling the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to spend previously allocated funds to educate residents of rural and remote areas, the elderly and minority groups. Previously approved by the Senate, the bill now moves on to the president.

As part of the bill, low-power TV stations will get some assistance to upgrade their equipment from analog to digital.