Lessons To Be Learnt From Analogue TV Switch Off

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The Australian Federal Government Digital Switchover Taskforce who are responsible for the switch off of analogue TV in Australia by 2013 are watching closely recent tests in the USA State of Washington where analogue TV was switched off replaced by digital TV .

The Australian Federal Government Digital Switchover Taskforce who are responsible for the switch off of analogue TV in Australia by 2013 are watching closely recent tests in the USA State of Washington where analogue TV was switched off  replaced by digital TV .

Recently the Australian Government called a $6.7 million tender for advertising agencies to promote the planned digital TV switchover and convert the nation to digital TV by 2013.
What the Digital Switchover Taskforce has not decided on is whether they will introduce couponing similar to what was introduced in Washington State.

Recently the Task Force met with senior executives of the free to air TV networks to discuss the co promotion of the analogue switch over and the launch of Freeview, the proposed free-to-air digital set top box currently in development. The first marketing for the switchover is expected to appear March 2009.

According to TWICE Magazine in the USA officials in Washington State received 797 calls of complaint on the first day of the analogue close down. Only 23 of those people said they were unaware of the transition or got the date mixed up. A majority of the other calls were related to people who waited until the last minute to hook up their digital set top boxes boxes, and they needed assistance with setup, Taylor said.
One of the most surprising lessons was that some viewers lost access to certain broadcast channels because the digital signal was not as strong as the analogue signal. In Australia this could result in additional towers having to be built.

According to the Wall Street Journal FCC Chairman Kevin Martin, told a US House Energy and Commerce Committee that about 15% of television markets across the country will shrink their markets “in a significant way” when broadcasters shut off their analog signals next year.
People will simply not buy a new digital TV he said.

In relation to the loss of a TV signal the FCC is currently working on identifying the problematic markets and considering ways to solve the problem, Mr. Martin said. The FCC will ask TV broadcasters to build new antennas to extend their digital signals into problem areas.

“It’s important and we will work with the broadcasters to make sure we’re filling in those holes,” Mr. Martin said.

Another interesting outcome was that when consumers were asked who was responsible for their problems they blamed the Federal Government.

While the Australian government has not decided on how to motivate consumers top switch to digital the US government allocated $1.3 billion in funding for 33 million redeemed converter-box coupons, administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The first $900 million of that money  is available to any household with an antenna-connected TV.

To date, 75 percent of that funding has been spent. More than 10 million coupons have been redeemed and counting at a rate of 50,000 per day. Approximately 2,300 retailers are selling coupon-eligible converter boxes.

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