DTV Stats vs Medias Attention

Many consumers in the US do not know anyting about the upcoming transition to DTV and its implications for them. The vast majority is totaly unaware. I read Dean Takahashi´s TechTalk in San José Mercury News with great interest. I love to pick up the paper every morning from our driveway and take a first sniff of the soft and fresh morning air in Menlo Park. Dean wrote an article about the DTV transition the other day. I enjoyed it mostly because he put together the basic statistics of transition. Here are some of the stats that Dean gathered.

About 60 percent of the consumers do not know anything att all about the transition today. About 20 million households are affected by the transition with an antenna as primary reciever of TV-signals. Another 14.6 million households have secondary TV-sets that are also affected. All in all around 70 million TV-sets need a converterbox to function properly, but no one really knows for sure how many TV-sets that are analog today. About 92 percent of broadcasters are transmitting both analog and digital TV as of today.

In comparison, Digital Media Europe reports that 38 percent of the viewers in the UK are not aware of the DTV transition and approximately 26 million TV sets are analog only today. And only 7 percent is aware of when the actual transition will take place in their region. I think the US has an easier task communicating the transition. Since its the same day for the whole country. But the common knowledge about the transition in the US is way to low right now. How do you bring that up? One thing that really matters is medias attention. UK media has covered the transition for a long time. and not only from a technical perspective. I think medias focus on technical aspects of digital television to often overshadows the consumers little interest in technology.

There is a widespread confusion about DTV – digital TV and HDTV. Most of the people I have met thinks this is all about HDTV. I think that is unique for the transition in the US compared to european countries. In Europe HDTV is not that common. Its starting to take of on platforms like satellite and cable but it is mostly for premium content. In that way it is easier to conduct a transition to digital TV in Europe since the improvement is a bigger bang for the TV viewer and you dont have to be dealing with another confusing acronym. Even if the US is in the early hours of the operations preparing for the actual transition, I am astonished about how poorly mainstream media is covering digital TV or ways of recieving TV. Tech media knows much about the subject but I still miss discussions about antennas, converterboxes and how to deal with reception for apartmentbuildings or buildings with central antenna. That are issues that needs more attention and more time to manage to be prepared in time for the transition date.

Anders Bjers


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