February 21, 2008
GETTING THE WORD OUT TO LATINOS, ELDERLY AND LOW INCOME IS KEY, SAYS LCCR
Washington, D.C. – Five of the largest cities in Texas will be among the most affected cities in the transition to digital broadcast in February, 2009, according to a new Consumers Union report based on Nielsen data. The Texas cities of Houston, Dallas, Ft. Worth, Austin, and San Antonio are among the most highly affected markets by the digital transition, with a combined 1.2 million households relying solely on over-the-air broadcasts for television. The Los Angeles, CA area has the single most households relying on the free analog TV signals, with nearly a million homes.
“Over 20 percent of homes with televisions in both Dallas and Houston rely solely on free over-the-air broadcasts. The programming that people rely on everyday to stay informed or for entertainment may not be there for nearly 1.5 million Texas households after February 2009,” said Joel Kelsey of Consumers Union.
Further analysis shows the markets with the highest percentage of over-the-air consumers are mostly in the west and in the heartland. The Salt Lake City area has the single highest percentage among major cities, with nearly 23 percent of all TV households (203,290 homes) relying on the free analog TV signals. Over twenty percent of television homes in Salt Lake City, Fresno, and Minneapolis also rely solely on free over-the-air television.
On February 17, 2009, television broadcasters will end “analog” broadcasts and begin sending television signals in a “digital” format. The DTV transition will affect millions of consumers who use analog television sets to view free over-the-air programming. Analog televisions will either need to be connected to a digital converter box, attached to cable or satellite service or replaced with a digital TV by the February 2009 deadline.
A survey recently released from Consumer Reports National Research Center found seventy-four percent of respondents were aware of the upcoming transition, but had serious misconceptions of its impact. The survey also found over one-third (36%) of Americans living in households with TVs are entirely unaware of the government-mandated transition to digital broadcasting.
According to Mark Lloyd of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, “while we think it is important to make this transition to more modern communications technology, minorities, the poor, people with disabilities and people in rural areas will be disproportionately affected. We must make sure that all Americans who rely on TV for important news and emergency information continue to have access.”
It’s true nationally and locally that communities of color are more likely to be affected by the switch to digital television. In three of the top five markets the minority populations are higher than the national average. In Houston, TX, African-Americans are 24.7 % and Latinos 41.9 % of the population, which is double and triple their respective national averages. In Minneapolis, MN, African Americans are 18.7% of the population. In Fresno, CA, Latinos make up 43.4 % of the population.
To see the full report see: http://www.hearusnow.org/fileadmin/sitecontent/DTV_HH_Report_Final.pdf
To see the accompanying charts see:
To find unbiased information on digital options, consumers should visit http://www.hearusnow.org/tvradio/12 and www.consumerreports.org/dtv.
Jennifer Fuson, 202.462.6262
Mistique Cano, 202.263.2882