Around 3.3 Million Homes Remain Unprepared for DTV Switch

NEW YORK and WASHINGTON: Less than 3 percent of the nation’s TV households remain unprepared for the final, final DTV transition, now less than 30 days away. Nielsen’s latest count indicates 3.3 million TV households are “completely unready” for the switch to all-digital broadcasting, set to take place June 12. The latest figure is an improvement of 200,000 over two weeks ago.

The FCC focused on the final weeks before the DTV transition at its regular monthly meeting today. It noted that 180 commission staff members have been sent to the 49 TV markets with the most number of unprepared households. The agency’s Web site also got a revamp with a ZIP code search function for people to find nearby DTV events and local station information. There are also 12 “grassroots” contracts in place for up to 400 walk-in centers and 12,000 “DTV help clinics” across the country for converter box and reception assistance.

A total of 34 contracts were also awarded for firms to provide in-home technical assistance. More are expected to be issued within the next week, culminating in an expected 218.800 installs nationwide. In addition to contractors, AmeriCorps volunteers and fire fighters will be hooking up analog-to-digital converter boxes.

The FCC’s 1-888 DTV help line will be staffed up to 4,000 as the June 12 deadline approaches, and three “soft tests” are planned for various times on May 21, when analog feeds will be interrupted with a message about the June 12 deadline. -- Deborah D. McAdams