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3.6 Million Homes Still 'Completely Unready' For DTV Transition: Nielsen

Nielsen says that as of April 12, 3.6 million TV housholds are "completely unready" for the DTV transition June 12.

That is an improvement of 200,000 households over the past two weeks.

As of March 29, 3.8 million were completely unready. Nielsen points out there are "just" nine weeks until the transition.

Nielsen said that Albuquerque-Santa Fe remains the least ready market at 9.13%, while the most prepared is Hartford-New Haven, where "everybody" is ready.

Nielsen's survey numbers are based on field staffers in 35,000-plus sample homes -- all of its metered households.

The National Association of Broadcasters has been critical of what it sees as Nielsen's unreadiness drumbeat.

In a letter to Nielsen chairman David Calhoun last month, NAB president David Rehr "respectfully disagreed" with both Nielsen's numbers and how they arrived at them, calling them unfair and misleading. Nielsen stood by its projections as the best gauge around of DTV-readiness.

Nielsen has been releasing periodic updates on its survey of households it considers completely unready for digital, which by its reckoning means that they do not have cable, satellite or telco TV; have only analog TV sets; and don't have any of those hooked up yet to a converter box that would allow them to receive a digital signal.

"While these households may be technically unready in the strictest sense," wrote Rehr, "it is unfair and misleading to classify them as 'completely unready,' especially those that have already purchased converter boxes. This methodology and classification overstates the number of truly unprepared households, and given the weight and widespread dissemination of Nielsen research, these reports can contribute to an unnecessary level of concern that the transition is not going well among members of Congress and regulators at the Federal Communications Commission."

John Eggerton
John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.