US Government Begins Digital TV Campaign

19 February 2008

The US government this week launches an all-out offensive to inform and educate the general populace about the digital TV switchover, which will black-out all analog sets in February 2009.

Around 14 million households across the nation are still exclusively connected through antennas rather than cable or satellite, and these viewers must switch to digital within the next twelve months or face the horrors of a TV-less future.

To this end, the Department of Commerce is mailing-out coupons that can be redeemed against digital converters. Each household is entitled to two $40 (€27; £20.50) vouchers to offset the cost of the government-approved digiboxes.

In addition, the department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration will target elderly, low-income and rural households, disabled viewers and minorities.

US TV networks have set aside airtime to the value of $1 billion for public-service announcements about the digital transition, while cable operators have offered around $200m in airtime.

It is likely around 1.4m households in 2008 and 2009 will sign up for cable or satellite services to solve the digital transition issue - doubling annual subscriber growth rates.

Data sourced from USA; additional content by WARC staff