18 Percent of Wilmington Aware of Early Transition Date

The vast majority of people in the Wilmington, N.C., area are aware of the DTV transition, but fewer than one in five are aware of the market’s first-in-the-nation transition date of Sept. 8, 2008.

A survey May 12-15 commissioned by NAB of 501 television households in the DMA found that 89 percent report having “seen, read or heard” about the television industry’s switch to digital broadcasting. The survey was conducted by Smith Geiger Research.

“Television viewers in Wilmington are learning quickly about the DTV transition,” said Jonathan Collegio, NAB vice president of digital television. “But there is significant confusion about the date of the transition.”

More Wilmingtonians (26 percent) incorrectly identified Feb. 17, 2009, as the transition date, than the 18 percent who got it right.

“This is likely due in part to the fact that the new date for the Wilmington market was just recently announced,” Collegio said. Also, 66 percent of households in the Wilmington DMA watch at least some programming that originates outside the market, so they’re seeing PSAs promoting the nationwide February 2009 date instead of the Wilmington’s September date.

“Controlling this factor appears to be one of the biggest challenges of the Wilmington experiment,” said Collegio.

In May, the FCC announced that Wilmington would be the first market in the country to go digital-only as a test to identify problems ahead of national transition. Four commercial television stations in Wilmington are participating in the experiment, with the public television station opting out.