Protecting free OTA service

August 16, 2004

The NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television say there are 280.5 million analog television sets in service in the United States, and 73 million of them receive only over-the-air signals (OTA).

That means that 18.9 percent of the U.S. population consists of households that receive only OTA signals, the TV trade organizations said in a report to the FCC. In those 20.5 million homes, there are more than 45 million broadcast-only television sets in use.

More than 20 percent of television sets in cable and satellite households are broadcast-only (meaning those homes have second, third, or fourth television sets that have widely-used receivers not hooked up to cable or satellite).

The statistics were provided in order to help the FCC determine what measures should be taken when analog television service is turned off in the United States.

The groups suggested subsidizing digital-to-analog converters for non-digital OTA households. Another suggestion was to promote and educate consumers about DTV, and to encourage them to purchase DTVs. A near term measure is that the FCC could require warning labels on analog-only sets, alerting consumers to the limited useful life of these sets.

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