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Executives from the Australian Digital Switchover Taskforce have been watching with interest as analogue TV was switch off in the US this weekend to be replaced by digital TV.

Executives from the Australian Digital Switchover Taskforce have been watching with interest as analogue TV was switch off in the US this weekend to be replaced by digital TV.


As Television stations across the U.S. began broadcasting exclusively in digital Friday, and millions of consumers suddenly realised that either had no digital TV signal or that their old TV was not digital compliant.


According to research Company Nielsen more than 2.8 million households remained completely unprepared.


During the past week retailers like Best Buy and Wal Mart have reported record sales of digital TV converter boxes and new digital TV’s with many households replacing their main TV for a flat panel TV while buying a converter box for their old TV. A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores said it had ordered additional inventory to meet demand this weekend.


According to newspaper reports in the USA one of the biggest problems has been consumers who fter buying a converter box, have then had trouble connecting the box to their TV. Calls to help centres have resulted in long delays with several charity and non profit groups stepping in to help aged consumers.


In some area’s switchover centres were set up in city parks where coupons and boxes were being given out. Consumers were able to hand over a coupon for the full value of a converter box.

 

Many Americans weren’t affected by the digital switch because they subscribe to cable or satellite TV services, which aren’t affected. An estimated 20 million U.S. households relied exclusively on free, over-the-air TV a year ago and had to either buy a new digital TV or get converter boxes for older TVs.


According to the Wall Street Journal for more than a year, pay-TV operators have been banking on the confusion surrounding the digital transition to pick up formerly over-the-air customers by pushing cheap packages and same-day installations.


Comcast has ramped up advertising, direct mail and phone calls to sell cable services to TV viewers affected by the change-over, said Derek Harrar, the general manager of video services at Comcast.
Foxtel in Australia is expected to do the same with a cheap entry level box and service.

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