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NAB Survey Says … 79% of Consumers Aware of DTV Transition

The National Association of Broadcasters said consumer awareness of the digital-TV transition has reached 79%, according to a survey it commissioned -- more than double the awareness figure in a similar survey in January 2007.

“This is a big step toward our goal of reaching every American with information about the DTV transition,” NAB president David Rehr said. “The first phase of our consumer-education campaign has been highly successful, and our next phase will focus on helping consumers to learn more about the steps they need to take to receive a digital signal before Feb. 17, 2009.”

But the NAB's was not the only poll released Wednesday. Consumer Reports issued its own survey finding that awareness was slightly less -- 64% -- but it also said that of those, 74% had "major misconceptions" about the transition.

The Consumer Reports study also found that among analog-only households that will lose their over-the-air transmissions from full-power TVs Feb. 17, 2009, one-half said they either weren't affected (24%) or don't know whether or not they are (25%).

The January 2008 NAB survey found that 79% of respondents had either "seen, read, or heard something," about the Feb. 17, 2009, transition date. That number was even higher -- 83% -- for analog-only households, which have the most to lose, as in their TV reception if they don't act by that date.

Broadcasters are not only looking to educate viewers, but to avoid a Federal Communications Commission-mandated public-service-announcement schedule that has been pushed by powerful Democratic legislators.

"I welcome today’s surveys by Consumers Union and the NAB, which provide important information about current levels of consumer awareness," FCC chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement. “As the NAB notes, the fact that more Americans are aware of the upcoming transition is a big step in the right direction. It is equally important, however, as highlighted by Consumers Union, that consumers understand how to be prepared."

FCC commissioner Jonathan Adelstein was less sanguine about the results and used the opportunity to call for a DTV State of the Union.

“The good news is that surveys from Consumers Union and the broadcast industry show that more Americans are becoming aware of the DTV transition," he said. "The bad news is that there is still a lot of confusion that could turn into widespread panic if the government doesn't take a more proactive role."

He continued, “The FCC needs to present a comprehensive strategy -- a DTV State of the Union -- about how it plans to provide better guidance to the American people.”

The NAB surveyed more than 1,000 people by telephone in January, with about one-fifth of those over-the-air-only TV households, or about the same as the general population.

Consumer Reports' survey was also a telephone survey of a little over 1,000 people, conducted in December.