Thursday, September 20, 2007

USA - transition to digital television

Digital television transition - Preliminary Information on Initial Consumer Education Efforts

Three private sector groups have asserted various estimates of the number of households that rely solely on over-the-air television. While one group estimates that 11 percent of households rely on over-the-air broadcasts, another group’s estimate is 16 percent of households, and a third group’s estimate is 20 percent of households. Further, private sector estimates claim an additional 5 percent to 27 percent of households that subscribe to cable or satellite television have at least one television set that receives an over-the-air signal. One group asserted that households that rely on over-the-air broadcasts are disproportionately comprised of older citizens than other households. Although it is unclear what percentage of households that rely exclusively on over-the-air broadcasts use analog rather than digital television sets, millions of those households potentially stand to be left without any television service unless they take action. To help the public understand the DTV transition and the various options they have, consumer education and awareness programs are underway and additional programs are being planned.

Despite the efforts currently underway and those being planned, difficulties remain in the implementation of consumer education programs. While private sector organizations are conducting outreach efforts, these actions are voluntary and therefore the government cannot be assured of the extent of private sector efforts. Strategic communications experts from industry, government, and academia identified potential challenges to a consumer education campaign, including (1) prioritizing limited resources to target the right audience for an adequate period of time, (2) educating consumers who do not necessarily need to take action, (3) reaching underserved populations, such as the elderly and disabled, and (4) aligning stakeholders to form a consistent, coordinated effort.

From United States Government Accountability Office

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