Tech & The District » DTV transition Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 CEA’s Washington Forum Informs, Entertains Fri, 24 Apr 2009 16:32:03 +0000 Vanessa Truskey The Consumer Electronics Association’s annual Washington Forum continued today with a panel discussion on the DTV transition and with a spirited luncheon hosted by Paul Begala and Tucker Carlson – and I found myself right in the middle of all the action.

The DTV panel featured experts from all sides of the issue, including reps from the Federal Communications Commission, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and a rep from CEA.  My colleague Chad blogged about the DTV transition back in February, and I heard many of the same themes at the panel today.  Consumer awareness of the impending transition is about 97% – but on transition day (now June 12) there will still be folks left with the blue screen.  Procrastination is widespread.  The message was loud and clear today though: this date won’t slip again, so prepare yourselves now! 

Before you complain about the extra work involved (honestly, wasn’t it time to get rid of those rabbit ears anyway?), think about the new benefits we’ll reap after the transition.  Sound and picture quality will be better with DTV.  We’ll have upgraded an important communications infrastructure in this country.  We may even be able to get mobile TV on our phones and GPS devices with the newly-vacated spectrum.  We need to look forward to these new benefits instead of focusing on the minor inconvenience felt by about 9% of the 114 million TV households in America.  If you still think it’s too tough, call the FCC and they will come to your house to help you install the box!

I’m sorry to say that the Begala/Carlson luncheon was too cool for me to even describe here, so unfortunately, you missed out.  However, if you ever meet Carlson, ask him about his plane that crashed in Pakistan.  If you ever meet Begala, ask him about his Hungarian grandmother’s visit to the Oval Office to meet President Clinton.  Neither story will disappoint.

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DTV delay? Do the math Fri, 30 Jan 2009 19:11:02 +0000 Chad Torbin The Senate voted earlier this week to unanimously postpone the upcoming transition from analog-to-digital television broadcasting by four months to June 12. Although the House under newly-elected Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, D-CA, originally voted against the Senate bill, the House is expected to pass the legislation after some minor tweaks are made early next week. The main concern for lawmakers is the 6.5 million U.S. households according to the Nielsen Co. that could see their signals go dark next month if the transition is not postponed.


Now, I like to watch TV as much as anyone and I too would be upset if I couldn’t tune-in to see Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan on 30 Rock each week, but we’re talking about a very small percentage of overall U.S. households (approximately 5.7% according to Nielsen) that will go dark in a couple of weeks and a delay that would come at a very high-cost to everyone. I have my own fuzzy math here, but if you will…


The U.S. government census bureau estimated in 2007 that there were almost 112 million households in the U.S. In the case of the DTV transition, we’re talking about 6.5 million households going dark. Out of those 6.5 million estimated to rely on the use analog TV signals, how many would we honestly estimate don’t even turn on their TVs on a regular basis? Let’s face it, there’s a small percentage of this country, and we’ve all met one or two in our lifetimes, who for whatever reason couldn’t even tell you who is president of the U.S. or who Michael Jordan is if you stopped and asked them. There’s a percentage of household out there that just don’t tune-in period.


The other issue is that for people that aren’t ready now, what makes the legislators believe that they’ll be ready June? I’m willing to put myself out there and say there’s a small percentage of that 6.5 million that still won’t do anything until the TV screen actually goes dark. Let’s face it, there’s a small percentage of this 6.5 million which for whatever reason won’t walk down to Best Buy and get the converter box until they absolutely have to.


I’m doing really rough math here, but if you take just those two groups and subtract them from the 5.7% Nielsen estimates, we’re really talking about a very, very small percentage of people who will lose out. Again, I empathize with anyone who might lose their signal, but is it really worth the $22 million PBS estimates it would cost broadcasters to delay the DTV transition, on top of increased funding that Congress would need to spend to prolong the consumer education program and issue more coupons?


If they were really concerned with getting viewers to switch, they should simply move up the date to Feb 1 so that people tuning into the most watched television event in the country might actually start to get the picture. Go Cardinals.


For more info check out the FCC webpage on the DTV transition:


Disclosure: Hill & Knowlton represents some companies that do not currently support a DTV delay

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