DTV soft test under construction


Word has already gotten out about plans to go nationwide with an analog shut-down so consumers still unprepared for the digital transition will be made aware of their unreadiness. It is still a work in progress. Meanwhile, the Commerce Department is about to embark on a DTV road show and a key senator has sounded a one-month-to-go alarm.

According to the Washington Post, 3.5M homes remain unready, and the object of the shutdown is to make that fact obvious to them. The plan, still being assembled, was earlier reported to involve three five-minute breaks in analog service with information provided for those who lost service on how to get on board for the transition.

The 3.5M households number probably comes from Nielsen’s latest survey. The National Association of Broadcasters did its own survey and thinks the real number is closer to 2.1M. Most observers think that the number of citizens who have at least heard that the transition is in the works is very close to 100%. NAB also notes that digital-to-analog converter box coupons are being requested at a rate of just over 60K daily, meaning every day 60K households are taking steps to participate in the transition.

The Commerce Department road show will take it to 20 markets with a high percentage of viewers getting their signals off-air. The tour will kicks off in Salt Lake City, Houston and Los Angeles.

Senate Commerce Committee Chair Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) used his bully pulpit to send out an alert to citizens. “With the transition only a month away, we are encouraging people who watch television using an antenna to adequately prepare for June 12th. I am especially concerned about protecting our most vulnerable citizens,” Rockefeller said. “I applaud the Administration’s efforts to make sure that every consumer is aware of the steps they need to take to guarantee continued reception, get the assistance they need to prepare for the transition in their home, and continue to receive the important news and public safety information that television provides.”

RBR/TVBR observation: The highest available estimates place unreadiness at 3.5M households. There’s a month to go to reel in the procrastinators. Let’s make the most of it.