Millions Still Not Ready For DTV Transition

The day so many had hoped to put off forever is almost here: June 12. That's the day when all broadcast channels must transition to digital broadcasting and millions of viewers across the nation will end up without TV service. The horror!

While most people — anyone with cable or satellite television, for example — won't be affected, there are an awful lot of people out there who rely on the free broadcast signal that floats through the airwaves for their television service. It's
estimated that fully 2.8 million people who get the basic broadcast channels now simply using rabbit ears or an old-fashioned antenna on their roof will lose that signal come Friday. That's 2.5 percent of Americans with television.

digital TV transition has been postponed a couple times, most recently because the federal government ran out of coupons to help folks afford the new equipment they'd need. Interestingly, homes of those who are older than 55 are in much better shape. Only 1.3 percent of those homes will be unprepared come Friday. The under-35 set is in more trouble, with 4.6 percent of those households being unprepared.

It may not be as simple as that, however, as many of those younger households may have chosen to forgo traditional television watching in favor of online viewing through services such as
Hulu or, ahem, BitTorrent.

Albuquerque/Santa Fe is the least ready for the transition, according to the state from Nielsen, with 7.6 of homes unprepared. Providence (Rhode Island)/New Bedford is 100 percent ready. Everywhere else is somewhere in between: New York has 1.3 percent of households unprepared, Las Vegas 2.22 percent, Portland (Ore.) 3.69 and Phoenix 4.16 percent.

Anyone who doesn't want to hook up to cable or satellite (or can't, for whatever reason) has two other options if they want to stick with a TV set - buy a new, digital television or a converter box, the latter of which could be purchased at a discount with those government coupons. You could probably make a nice planter out of your old set.