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Public aware of DTV transition, slow to take action

A new survey from the Association of Public Television Stations (APTS) reveals a mixed bag when it comes to the public’s involvement with the February 2009 digital television transition.

On the one hand, awareness of the impending transition is at an all-time high, according to the study. On the other, many over-the-air (OTA) households are slow to take the necessary steps to continue receiving terrestrial television after the plug is pulled on analog transmitters, the survey found.

As of May 2008, 62 percent of OTA households said they would buy a converter box or digital television, compared to 28 percent in November 2006.

However, the study found that most of the 8.8 million OTA households saying they would buy a set-top converter box to continue receiving free OTA television have not done so.

Among all TV households surveyed, 9.2 percent — or 10.3 million households — said they requested a coupon. Of those requesting a coupon, 64.4 percent said they received the coupon and 54.2 percent had redeemed the coupon. Roughly 38 percent of those who redeemed the coupon reported installing the converter box.

About 70 percent of OTA households said they know what they need to do to continue to view television after the transition.

The APTS study also found that as the transition date nears, fewer OTA consumers said they would sign up for cable, satellite or telecommunications service to receive digital television, while more are inclined to buy a converter box or digital TV set. Those that said they would sign up for a paid service had dropped from 29 percent in November 2006 to 12 percent in May 2008.

The study results are based on a May-June 2008 survey of 1439 households conducted by research firm CENTRIS in Fort Washington, PA.

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