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Poll finds consumer confusion over DTV transition continues

Eighty-eight percent of Americans have heard of the DTV transition, but significant numbers don’t understand what they must do to prepare, nor do they know why the transition is occurring, according to the findings of a poll from consumer electronics retailer Best Buy.

Additionally, the survey found that 45 percent say they will wait until after the DTV transition to do anything about it.

The telephone poll of 1000 Americans, conducted in April by GfK Roper Public Affairs and Media Omnibus Services and released in mid June, paints a disturbing picture for broadcasters, government policy makers and others with an interest in minimizing the disruption experienced by the public resulting from the transition.

According to the findings, 60 percent of consumers know the DTV transition will occur Feb. 17, 2009, but 54 percent don’t understand why. Confusion isn’t restricted to why, however. Nearly one-third don’t know whether they own an analog or digital television. Eighteen percent of consumers who own analog TVs say they believe nothing will happen after the DTV transition and that their analog sets will look similar to how they look now.

Particularly troublesome for broadcasters is the finding that 43 percent of consumers who plan to prepare for the DTV transition will do so by subscribing to cable or satellite.

The poll also found that 21 percent say they believe they cannot afford to make any preparations for the transition. Those with analog sets incorrectly said they believe a DTV converter will cost $56, after applying the $40 government-issued coupon.

The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 3 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.