February 8, 2009, is the day that anyone who gets TV reception from an antenna will need to upgrade with a digital converter box in order to get reception. The federal government has been spending millions on ad campaigns to make sure the public is aware of the change with limited results. From the NY Times:
The Federal Communications Commission sponsored a Nascar race car as part of its effort to inform Americans that on Feb. 18, television signals transmitted over the air will be transmitted solely in digital format. Old TV sets will no longer work.
It paid $350,000 to emblazon “The Digital TV Transition” and other phrases on a Ford driven by David Gilliland.
So how’s that going? In November, the car crashed during a Nascar race in Phoenix. It was the second crash in as many months.
And how is the digital TV transition going? According to critics, about as well, despite a major marketing campaign that includes nightly ads on TV.
According to surveys conducted by the Consumers Union, a consumer advocacy group that also publishes Consumer Reports magazine, while 90 percent of the nation is aware of the transition, 25 percent mistakenly believe that one must subscribe to cable or satellite after February, and 41 percent think that every TV in a house must have a new converter box, even those that are already connected to cable or satellite.
“We need boots on the ground,” said Joel Kelsey, a Consumers Union policy analyst. Mr. Kelsey advocated armies of people, from firefighters to television industry personnel, going into homes and setting up converter boxes for consumers.
Sounds like a job for Obama’s email volunteer corps to make inroads into all the bitter parts of the country that don’t have cable . . .