Yesterdays hearing in the House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee about the status of the DTV transition revealed that 84% of Americans are now aware about the DTV transition. Although, only half of them who needs to act are prepared to do so. And, there seams to be a shortage of converter boxes.
The overall awareness are growing and campaigns are showing good results. I would expect that local TV-stations and newsmedia are doing the large part of the job to move the consumer awareness forward.
However, I believe that stakeholders need to get the message out in a more practical way – that is -what to do and also clarify who needs to act even more practical. I also wonder how local businesses are preparing to help out with installations for both consumers and local entities like housing and apartment buildings. A good example is Univisions digital Squad that is a grass root campaign in the making. Street teams will show consumers how to use converterboxes. Thats the way to do it!
There is little talk abut the fact that some consumers need to change the set up of stations on the DTV converterbox the day after the transition, when some tv-stations will continue on a different frequency than before. That is a second action during the transition. Many consumers will thing they are done the day they have successfully made their converter box running smooth.
But GAO reports an interesting miss match. About half of the ones who needs to act don’t recognize the fact. And about 30% of people who are unaffected – are planning to act! So, there is a great mission to bring clarification to households. I wonder if there are going to be some more specific out-reach campaigns in order to bring people up to a second level of awareness.
But also, what are the actual status when it comes to converterboxes? To have empty shelves is a nightmare. In Sweden we were checking the supply of boxes constantly. I am sure the same thing happens in the U.S. But, more importantly, there was no regulation on the Swedish market when it came to providers of converterboxes as there is in the U.S. That resulted in a broad choice of products. However, that put the pressure on consumers to understand what they needed and should buy. A delicate task for many, not comfortable to buy electronic goods. Even if boxes looks pretty much the same and has a similar pricetag, they have variations on the inside that makes a difference. So, it is important to tell consumers to buy a box with the option to return it and get another brand. If there was problems with the reception in the first place a different box could work properly due to fx the sensitivity of the receiver. I think it is a mistake to limit the market and in that sense not providing a wide range of choices for consumers but more importantly – to avoid a real shortage of boxes.
/ Anders Bjers