NAB: 1.75 Million Unprepared For DTV Transition

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The National Association of Broadcasters says that its most recent polling finds that about 1.75 million over-the-air TV houesholds have not taken steps to convert to digital.

That came at a National Association of Broadcasters press conference on the last full day of analog transmissions for the majority of America's full-power TV stations.

Representatives of government and industry gathered at the First Amendment room of the National Press Club in Washington to talk about how ready broadcasters and consumers are for the big switch.

The format mirrored the DTV briefings at the FCC's public meetings and included several of the same stakeholders.

Nielsen released its final pre-transition readiness figure that said 2.8 million were unready, meaning they have no digital TV, no analog-to-digital converter box set up, and no cable or satellite service.

But Seth Geiger, President, president of SmithGeiger LLC, put that number at 2.2 million households, then knocked off another 440,000 that had indicated they were "down the path" to readiness, which meant they had taken some steps, including applying for a DTV-to-analog converter box coupon or had a box but had not yet hooked it up.

"There will be a fair amount of procrastination and last-minute adoption," he said.

For example, of those who had not taken any steps, almost a third (30%) thought they still had time.

NAB has been taking issue with Nielsen's numbers, arguing that it overstates unreadiness since its figure included people who might have applied for a converter box and not recieved it yet or had a converter box, but were just waiting until the 11th hour to connect it.

The consensus among the press conference attendees, which included representatives from the NTIA, FCC, NAB, AARP, and consumer manufacturers and retailers, was that the June 12 transition would result in a majority of viewers getting more channels and better pictures.

However, all conceded that there would be reception problems and signal losses -- not to mentionconfused viewers -- all of which would need to be addressed in the days and weeks and even years to come.

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