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CEA Presses for Hard Cutoff Date, Releases OTA Survey Methodology

On Tuesday, July 12, CEA President/CEO Gary Shapiro reiterated in testimony before the Senate Commerce Committee his lobby group's newest survey that finds of nearly 110 million American homes with at least one TV, more than 86 percent are receiving broadcast programming via cable or satellite. But, he said, "only 32.7 million (11.5 percent) of the 285 million television sets are used to view over the air (OTA) television."

Some published reports (touched upon in a Letter to the Editor in this edition of HD Notebook) have implied that the CEA was refusing to turn over its specific methodology for its OTA survey. The CEA contends that another survey from the Consumer's Union that found nearly 80 million TV sets were totally dependent on terrestrial signals was over-inflated to more than double the real numbers. The CEA says its number of 32.7 million OTA sets realistically takes into account (and excludes) non-antenna sets used exclusively for videogames or DVD-VHS playback.

Ironically, the same polling firm was used for both the CEA and CU-GAO surveys. Upon request, the CEA quickly forwarded to HD Handbook the methodology for its commissioned two-question May 2005 survey, including instructions to pollsters, which is detailed below in its entirety (all capped words are the CEA's):

The data was collected via a telephone survey conducted by Opinion Research (ORC) among a national probability sample of 1,057 adults comprising 533 men and 524 women, 18 years of age and older, living in private households in the continental United States. Completed interviews were weighted by four variables: age, sex, geographic region and race, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population, 18 years of age and older.

Interviews were completed during the period May 13-16, 2005. Opinion Research used the most advanced probability sampling techniques in the selection of households for telephone interviewing. Opinion Research uses an unrestricted random sampling procedure that controls the amount of serial bias found in systematic sampling to generate its random-digit-dial sample. The sample is fully replicated and stratified by region. Only one interview is conducted per household. All sample numbers selected were subject to up to four attempts to complete an interview.

The margin of error for the aggregate results is +/- 3.2 percentage points. Sampling error is larger for subgroups of the data. As with any survey, sampling error is only one source of possible error.

Opinion Research, founded in 1938, is a research and consulting firm that helps organizations worldwide.

Q1. To start, how many TVs does your household own which have been used at least once in the PAST 3 MONTHS? [DO NOT READ LIST. RECORD ONE ANSWER]
Six or more

Q2. Please think about all the different TVs in your household and the ways in which you receive television programming, such as cable, a satellite service or an antenna that may mount on your roof or an antenna that sits on or near the TV, sometimes called rabbit ears. As I read the list of different ways you might be receiving programming, tell me if you have at least one TV that matches the description. [READ LIST. RECORD ONE ANSWER FOR EACH TV IN HOUSEHOLD]
Cable service ONLY
Cable service AND antenna
Satellite service ONLY
Satellite service AND antenna
Cable service AND satellite service
Cable service, satellite service AND antenna
Antenna ONLY