Many Viewers Still Not Ready For Digital TV Transition

January 13, 2009 12:10:47 AM PST
With just over a month to go, a new poll reveals many valley viewers aren't ready the switch to digital television. The digital TV transition is set for February 17th, but an exclusive Action News survey conducted by Survey U.S.A. shows that only 40 percent of people who have analog TVs have purchased a digital converter box.Dozens of phone calls flooded the ABC 30 phone bank in a matter of minutes after a test showed viewers whether they're ready or not for the digital television transition. People who got a message showing they weren't ready called into the call center, wanting to know what they need to do to continue watching TV after February 17th. "Most of them are, 'how can I get a converter box?' Or 'how can I get a coupon to get a converter box?" said Charlene Ciavaglia, ABC 30's programming manager.

An exclusive Action News poll conducted by Survey U.S.A. shows that while 98 percent of people are aware of the transition, many don't know what kind of signal their TV receives. 43 percent say their TV only gets an analog signal and 28 percent say they're not even sure.

Converter boxes allow analog TVs to receive a digital signal and right now, they're in high demand. A Target in north Fresno only had a handful left, after selling out of two different brands, including one that was selling for only 5 dollars if you had a forty dollar government coupon. "They have the other ones, but if you get the one for 5 bucks, you might as well get it for five bucks, right?" said Steve Lubisich of Clovis.

"This shelf was full two days ago. And I wanted to do some more research to make sure I'm getting the right one," said Rick Ratliff of Fresno. Ratliff said he enjoyed doing the research but says he can understand how the transition can be confusing for others. Adding to this confusion are new questions about whether the transition will happen on February 17th, because President-Elect Barack Obama is pushing for a delay. He says too many Americans who have Analog TV sets still aren't ready and the government has run out of money to offer any more coupons. Channel 30 volunteers had to tell callers Monday they can call the government and be put on a waiting list. "As soon the other coupons have expired, the money becomes available, they'll be able to reissue some of those coupons to the public again," said Ciavaglia.

It's important to know that as of right now, the transition will take place February 17th.

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