How would you like to be the unofficial spokesperson for the U.S. transition to digital television (DTV) and win a home entertainment system in the process? All you need is a video camera and a YouTube account.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA)--sponsor of the yearly consumer electronics circus, CES, in Las Vegas--is promoting a contest
for user-submitted videos "that educates the public on how to prepare friends and family for the digital television (DTV) transition
." The contest kicked off a few days ago on YouTube with a call-to-arms video featuring the country music group, Whiskey Falls. User submitted videos to the contest must be less than three minutes in length and in English. Videos will be judged on originality and creativity (40 percent), on aesthetic appeal (20 percent), and on how well the contest theme of "Digital TV: Convert Now
" (40 percent) is conveyed. Prospective contestants have until November 23 to submit videos. Judges will review all the submission and select five finalists. Then from December 1 through December 7, the public will get to vote on which of the five finalists is the winner.
The winner will be announced on December 10 and will receive a "Panasonic 50-inch Plasma HDTV (model TH-50PX75U), Sony Blu-ray high-definition disc player (model BDP-S300), and Pioneer Surround Sound System (model HTP-2950DV)
." The four runner-ups will each receive a digital converter box.
The U.S. transition to DTV will take place on February 17, 2009. On this date, all over-the-air analog TV broadcasts will be suspended and over-the-air TV broadcasts will only be available via digital broadcasts. Older, conventional TVs with VHF-based antennas (rooftop or "rabbit ears") will no longer receive over-the-air TV broadcasts. After February 17 of next year, in order to watch over-the-air TV, you'll need either a digital TV (with a built-in digital TV tuner) or a digital TV tuner box. To help with the transition, the U.S. government is offering $40 coupons
towards the purchase of a digital TV converter box. Not everyone necessarily needs a digital converter box, however. The CEA reports that over half of U.S. households already own at least one digital TV
. Also cable and satellite TV subscribers need not worry about the transition as these are not over-the-air broadcasts and are not subject to the DTV transition.
Considering how poorly the DTV transition test run
went in Wilmington, North Carolina back in September, it's no surprise that an organization such as the CEA (with its many partners who have vested interests in the DTV transition) is trying to promote a grass-roots educational program. And who better than Whiskey Falls to promote the contest? After all, what is more American than country music and watching TV? Perhaps fast food and NASCAR... Which gives us an idea for the video we're going to submit...