FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2008
Christine DeLoma, (512) 474-2082, or firstname.lastname@example.org
TEXANS URGED TO “GET READY” FOR FEBRUARY DIGITAL TV TRANSITION
Studies show Texans – especially minorities and seniors – among the most unprepared
AUSTIN – Groups representing the cable and broadcasting industries, senior citizens, Hispanics and African-Americans, along with State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) joined Tuesday in a Capitol press conference to urge Texans to prepare now for a major shift – in three months – in how they must view television programming.
Studies show that Texans are among the most unprepared nationally for the digital television (DTV) transition, and certain segments of the population also lag in preparations.
“If all of your TVs are connected to cable or satellite or have built-in digital tuners, you are all set for the DTV transition,” said Sen. Fraser, chairman of the Senate Committee on Business and Commerce. “But consider those less fortunate, those in need and those less technically savvy than yourself. We can all take pride in helping our neighbors get ready for the digital transition.”
Under a federal government mandate, all full power television stations broadcasting in the United States must switch from analog to digital programming by Feb. 17, 2009. The switch will leave viewers without a television signal unless they do one of three things: buy a digital converter box, buy a digital television, or subscribe to cable or satellite services.
“About 7.7 percent of all U.S. homes are still unprepared for the digital TV transition, and Texans appear to be among the most unprepared in the nation,” said Kathy Brabson, president of the Central Texas division of Time Warner Cable and also representing the Texas Cable Association (TCA). “That’s why we – the Texas Cable Association, the Texas Association of Broadcasters, AARP, LULAC and NAACP – are here today. With the transition only three months away, we are stepping up our joint efforts to aggressively educate Texans about the DTV transition.”
Of the 56 local markets that Nielsen Media Research measures with electronic meters, three Texas cities are among the top 10 least ready – Houston ranks first, with 15.8 percent of the households completely unready, Dallas-Fort Worth came in second with 14.3 percent of its households completely unprepared, and Austin was eighth with 11.6 percent of households not ready for the switch.
“While Texas leads the nation in the number of digital set-top converter boxes purchased, hundreds of thousands of households that rely exclusively on free, over-the-air television still need to act now,” said Texas Association of Broadcasters (TAB) Vice President Oscar Rodriguez. “Free, over-the-air digital television is already available, providing stunning pictures, crystal clear sound and, in many markets, additional channels of free programming.
“Texas broadcasters are dedicating $100 million in advertising time to compel viewers to act quickly and are helping individuals and community groups learn how to take advantage of the many benefits of digital television easily and inexpensively.”
In addition, studies show that nationally:
- Almost one in four seniors is not aware of the digital TV transition, and 31 percent of seniors without a college education are not aware of the transition and say they haven’t heard about it.13 percent of Hispanic households and 12.5 percent of African American households are completely unready for the digital transition.
- About 25 percent of households that speak only or mostly Spanish are completely unready.
In many instances, even if consumers have taken steps to ensure their primary TV sets will work after the transition, households often have additional sets that are not properly equipped, such as those in bedrooms or the kitchen.
“Viewers need to remember that a set-top converter box is needed for each TV set, which is why the federal government is allowing households to receive two $40 coupons to defray most of the cost of each box,” Rodriguez said.
The coupons can be ordered by phone, online or by mail. (Fact sheet attached.)
“From the cable perspective, many of our customers will not notice a difference in the analog to digital switch on February 17,” Brabson said. “Any TV hooked up to cable will work just fine. However, we are encouraging our customers who have secondary TVs to make sure they also are prepared for the DTV transition”
Some of the efforts taken by TCA and TAB to reach out and educate Texans include:
- English and Spanish public service announcements airing on cable networks and local broadcast stations. Educational briefings for the public and targeted populations held in numerous communities around the state. Educational material provided on TAB and TCA Web sites and provided to organizations and associations to distribute to their members, especially those whose constituencies are estimated to be particularly unprepared for the switch. Legislative briefings and educational materials for Texas lawmakers and their staffs.
- Outreach to the Texas media.
TCA (www.txcable.com) is the primary trade organization for cable operators in Texas. Texas Association of Broadcasters (www.tab.org) advocates on behalf of Texas’ 1,300+ free, over-the-air radio and television stations.
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