Jim Yager, CEO of Barrington Broadcasting, says the industry is launching a PSA campaign, crawls, speakers bureau and a DTV road show to get the word out prior to the February 2009 deadline.
In an appearance before the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet Wednesday, NAB Television Board Member Jim Yager, CEO of Barrington Broadcasting, spelled out the NAB-MSTV joint efforts to educate the public on the industry’s transition to digital television broadcasting in 2009.
He told the panel that, according to NAB surveys, only about 40% of Americans have any idea that the DTV transition is underway, and among those who do, only 1%-3% realize that the transition will be complete by February 2009. In all, NAB estimates that 69 million television sets will potentially be impacted by the DTV transition.
To address the problem, Yager said, “broadcasters are engaged in a consumer awareness campaign. NAB has hired a full-time staff dedicated exclusively to the DTV transition. They have commissioned research and conducted focus groups—not only to measure the demographics of who will be affected by the transition, but to determine where these viewers get their information, and how to best frame the DTV message with consumers.”
Another part of the industry program, he said, is a media campaign—”not only gaining stories in national media, but in local newspapers and on local newscasts as well. We will kick-off a large speaker’s bureau—utilizing local station talent for community appearances at the local level. We are working on the launch of a DTV road show, where we have a van that goes from location to location with DTV demonstrations to help generate buzz on the transition.
“We are also helping coordinate a large coalition of organizations—27 at last count—to help bring everyone who has an interest in a smooth transition on to the same message. In fact, AARP joined the coalition just yesterday. The coalition has launched a consumer website and local stations will also be launching their own websites. NAB has proactively met with European officials who have completed, or who are in the midst of their own DTV transitions. We are also reaching out to NTIA and the FCC to ensure that our messaging is consistent and resonates with the American public.”
Broadcasters, he added, “view our public service announcements as the real currency of the DTV marketing campaign. We are prepared to launch PSAs across the country beginning in 2008 to raise public awareness about the transition and consumer options. We may also employ ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‹Å“crawls’ at the top of our screens during programming to complement the PSAs. We believe those PSAs should begin when the converter boxes become available to avoid any consumer confusion.”
He also expressed the industry’s willingness to “work in partnership with the government and each of you in Congress. For instance, we will supply you with articles for your constituent newsletters and DTV kits to educate your constituents in town hall meetings in your individual districts.”
Commenting on the NTIA’s plan to offer coupons on digital converter boxes, he said the program “is also a step in the right direction, but more needs to be done. All consumers who have analog sets that rely on an over-the-air signal should have access to coupons—especially those in underserved communities. Lower income households, minorities, people living in rural areas, and seniors will all be disproportionately impacted by the transition, and the coupon program needs to work for them.”
And he also suggested that the FCC or NTIA consider establishing a 1-800 number to provide consumer information.