During the last week of June the U S Governments accountabillity office, GAO, will facillitate an expert panel focusing on the transition to digital TV. The panel will focus especially on the consumer outreach. In other words – how will American consumers effected by the transition get to know about it?
GAO made a similar report in 2005, titeled: Digital Television Transition: Issues Related to an Information
Campaign Regarding the Transition.
I think GAOs effort shows how important the transition is in a broader context. The bottomline is that consumers have to buy a box and plug it in. That is how the actual transition will be carried out for most of the consumers. But since over 30 million households are effected at the same time, this is more than just a question of plug and play. Television is the most important media for everyone today. Therefore, the transistion must not fail technically or informationwise.
TV is far more used than any media today. Even if broadband connected computers har steadily gaining ground among users. About 53% of the households in the US have a broadband connection. But still, I imagine that TV outpace the computer as daily outlet of information and entertainment for the broad audience. Interesting enough President Bush signed and set the firm date for the actual transition til after he has left office. That too is a signal how important the transition is. Because if it backfires, responsible stakeholders involved in the transition will have a serious situation to deal with. But it wont be then former President G W Bush´s concern.
I know from experience that the consumer in general do not think about how they recieve TV. They just turn the TV set on and take it for granted, as they probably should after all these years. The transition stakeholders must make sure that the consumers can turn on their TV sets as usual the day after february 17 in 2009. If not, the general consumer will make a roar never heard of. That roar can be a nice purr instead if the stakeholders manage the transition in a successfull way.
If the transition will be a success – I think you will be able to tell three weeks before the actual date. If the consumers are “silent” at that time – the transition will go by smoothly. Thats how every transition are best described as in Sweden since the transition started in 2005 with the first of five phases. Since then more than 20% of the households have made their way to convert to digital TV. Mostly pleased with what they got.
But to gain silence – the hard work is to be done today. And that is a whole different story…