Most Americans still confused by DTV transition

In a little over a year, any traditional TV set still connected to its antenna will receive nothing but static. However, a recent poll by the marketing arm of the cable industry shows that most people still have no clue this is going to happen.

In a telephone survey in November, 1017 people were polled. Only 48 percent said they had heard about the switch to digital television. And only 17 percent correctly identified 2009 as the year that analog television will be cut off. (The survey had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points.)

Most of the people surveyed don’t need to know anything because they subscribe to cable or satellite service. But 17 percent of households don’t have pay service on any of their sets. And another 21 percent of households have cable or satellite on some sets, but own at least one set that gets television over the air.

The survey found that the group most affected by the analog cutoff — those with no cable or satellite service — are most in the dark about what will happen to their sets. Only one-third of them knew that their TVs will stop receiving programs.

Only 14 percent were interested in a converter box, and 19 percent said they would buy pay service. By contrast, 8 percent said they would just watch DVDs or play video games. And 12 percent said they would simply abandon television altogether.