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GAO: Consumers Confused About Transition

This will hardly come as a big shock to most industry observers, but the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO) has submitted a report to Congress that concludes that the typical American consumer is confused over the DTV transition. (Join the crowd?) According to an MSTV analysis of the report, the survey detailed the results of a series of meetings with "stakeholders" in the DTV process (broadcasters, manufacturers, retailers, and groups). According to MSTV the report's major findings include:

  • Many stakeholders believe American households do not fully understand the DTV transition.

  • Consumers do not understand the difference between the "DTV transition" and "HDTV."

  • Consumers do not understand that after the transition, analog signals will be shut off.

  • One retailer said since analog TV sets are still priced much lower than digital sets, consumers with no knowledge of the transition are not eager to buy DTV equipment.

  • HD programs should be listed as such in TV guides and newspapers.

  • Eleven respondents said broadcasters should be primarily responsible for educating consumers. Ten said the government should have the primary responsibility. Some noted that all groups should play a role.

  • As far as timing of an awareness campaign, some manufacturers think it should begin six to12 months before a hard transition date. Others said it should begin at least a year in advance.

  • Respondents also noted that a specific cut-off date is vital for any campaign to be effective.