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Are You Ready For The Switch To Digital Television?


Americans have become obsessed with television. After a hard days work, many look forward to stretching out on the couch and watching their favorite sitcom or an exhilarating game on that big screen in the living room. It has become so much of an obsession for some, that many do not know how to entertain themselves if there is, for instance, a power outage.

Despite this obsession, many Americans are not prepared for the switch to digital television on June 12, and believe it or not, many claim they have not even heard of the digital television transition. The transition requires all televisions to be digital to receive a signal. If a set is not connected to cable, or already digital, a converter box is needed to receive a picture.

The Nielsen Company, a global information and media company, reported that more than 6.5 million American households, which are approximately 5.7 percent of the U.S. population, are not ready for the transition. However, Nielsen reported that number is an improvement of over 1.3 million homes since their last report on December 21, 2008.

On December 21, the number of African Americans unprepared was 10.8 percent; the number of Hispanics unprepared was 11.5 percent; the number of Asians unprepared was 8.1 percent; and the number for Whites was 6.8 percent. In addition, 9.9 percent of those under age 35 were unprepared and 5.2 percent of those over age 55 were unprepared.

“Nielsen has been preparing for the transition to digital television for more than two years. Because we recognize that accurate and reliable information on consumer behavior is essential to this transition, we’ve been sharing our data with clients, government leaders and the public so they could track progress to digital readiness,” said Nielsen Vice Chairman Susan Whiting.

Nevertheless, the level of preparedness is not equal when limited to various ethnic groups. African Americans lead when it comes to unpreparedness, with 9.9 percent of households reporting that they are not ready based on Nielsen’s latest report on January 18, compared to 9.7 percent of Hispanics, 6.9 percent of Asians and 4.6 percent of Whites. Furthermore, the percentage of unprepared citizens increases with young people with 8.8 percent of people under age 35 not ready, while four percent of people over 55 are not ready.

“There are still millions of people who will be adversely affected because they are not ready for the digital transition,” said Ernest W. Bromley of Nielsen Hispanic/Latino Advisory Council.

Nita Song of Nielsen Asian Pacific American Advisory Council added: “Nielsen has played a key role in reaching out to our underserved communities and helping them understand what needs to be done.”

Albuquerque-Santa Fe, N.M. ranks as the least prepared area in the country for digital television with 12.4 percent unready. However, Hartford and New Haven, Conn. are the most prepared for the digital transition with only 1.8 percent of homes unready.

“It is imperative that we operate at an accelerated pace to educate those who are at the greatest risk of losing their television service–low-income households, large numbers of senior, minority and disabled viewers,” said Cynthia Perkins-Roberts of Nielsen African American Advisory Council. “These viewers rely on traditional television the most and can least afford to lose their television lifelines. We have a responsibility to make sure that these groups whether in our families, churches or communities are equipped and ready for this transition.”

Jeremy James is a writer for ; Regal Mag The preeminent Online Magazine for African American Men. For more information on this subject visit our ; Entertainment Section To read about ; digital television

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Resources Concerning The Change To Digital Television In Arkansas

On February 17, 2009, analog television will be a thing of the past. From then on, everyone will have to go digital. For those who are prepared for the change, they won’t notice a change at all. Unfortunately, not everyone in Arkansas (or any state for that matter), is prepared for the switch to only digital television. There are, though, resources to make this change easier and more effective for those who currently are unprepared for the change to digital.

If you are one of those in Arkansas who is not currently receiving the digital signal, CW Arkansas has resources to help you to see why this might be happening. Their website provides resources to help you to understand the problem even if you have cable or satellite. They will help you to find where you can get a DTV converter box and help you to know where to go if you are having problems with your converter box or anything else concerned with the transition to digital television. It is important to use these resources and others before February 19, 2009 as once the day comes, you will have lost the signal completely. No one wants to be rushing around after the change has taken place, trying to fix the problem.

Fortunately, Arkansas residents can turn to other resources to learn more about the change to digital television. Other television stations websites can also help you to understand the transition to digital television. For example KHBS, a Fayetteville station, has several articles about the switch. Some explain why it’s taking place and what it means for the customer. Others explain your options as a consumer. One article even talks about where you can write to appeal if you are denied a DTV converter box coupon.

For people who feel their local stations websites have not helped them to understand the conversion to digital television, there are still other resources that can help with this understanding. Arkansas residents, and residents of other states can go to dtv.gov. There the customer can read about just about anything concerning the conversion to digital television including information about the coupons for the DTV converter box and information about installing the converter box. The web site even provides pictures to help the installation go smoother.

For people who are still confused about the conversion to digital or who feel they aren’t sure what choice is the best one for them, another valuable resource is friends and family. This is especially true if you know you have a family member who is or at least was in a similar situation concerning their own television. Someone who has an old television that won’t last much longer may find that buying a newer television is a better investment than spending the money on a DTV converter box, especially since the person is going to have to buy a new television soon anyway. Some people may even find that the extra investment is not worth they money, especially if the person was only getting three or four channels before.

For everyone in Arkansas, and in other states, who has not yet taken advantages of the resources to learn more about the digital conversion, now is a good time. Learn now if you are ready. No one wants to find out too late that although they thought they were ready, they really aren’t ready for February 17, 2009.

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