NAB, MSTV filing: 20.5 million U.S. households receive OTA television exclusively

About 20.5 million households in the United States rely solely on analog over-the-air reception of television signals, according to a filing with the FCC from the Association for Maximum Service Television and the NAB.

The figure, which represents 18.5 percent of all U.S. TV households, shows the potential enormity of the disruption that will be caused when analog television service is discontinued in market after market as the 85 percent rule is met.

The joint Aug. 11 filing was in response to a Media Bureau request for identity, demographic and geographic information on the over-the-air TV audience that will be used to help the commission minimize the disruption of the switch-off.

Salient points in the filing include:

  • More than 18 million multichannel video program distributor (MVPD) households have one or more sets that rely solely on OTA broadcasting;
  • 73 million analog sets are “unwired” or don’t use satellite or cable to receive news and entertainment;
  • 280 million analog sets will be in service when the switch-off occurs, and it’s unknown how the public will respond to forced obsolescence;
  • About 6.4 million DTV sets are in use in U.S. homes, of which about 23 percent are used for OTA DTV reception.

The filing identified three prescriptions to ease the disruption: the availability of affordable digital-to-analog converter boxes (which may need to be subsidized in certain instances), public education about the benefits of DTV, and mandated warning labels affixed to new analog sets that inform consumers of the switchover and resulting obsolescence.

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