Digital TV Transition Could Leave One in Six Homes in the Dark

An estimated 17.7 percent of U.S. households rely on over-the-air signals to watch TV and would no longer receive broadcasts when the switch to digital TV service takes effect, according to a study by Mediamark Research & Intelligence.

The transition, initially scheduled to occur Feb. 17, may get pushed back to June after President Obama called for a delay. That’s because $1.3 billion allocated to help consumers pay for the purchase of digital converter boxes had been exhausted.

Of households in the U.S., 82.3 percent or 182.91 million subscribe to cable or satellite TV and therefore won’t notice a disruption in their television viewing when the transition happens, according to Mediamark.

A separate study released by Leichtman Research finds that 34 percent of U.S. households have at least one high definition television set. Those with HDTV sets are counted in the 82.3 percent with cable and satellite TV subscriptions.

Households subscribing to cable or satellite TV have an average household income of $76,041, compared to households relying on an over-the-air signal with an average household income of $46,962.

MRI interviews approximately 26,000 U.S. adults in their homes each year asking about their use of media, their consumption of products, and their lifestyles and attitudes.

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