More than 6.5 million homes would be unable to receive any full-power digital TV station signals if the DTV transition occurred today, according to Nielsen.
That is the number of homes (5.7% of the TV households) that Nielsen estimates are "completely unready" for the DTV switch with less than four weeks to the Feb. 17 transition date, which means they do not have a DTV set or a converter box, cable, or satellite service.
That is an improvement in DTV-readiness of 1.3 million homes over December but likely not enough to assuage legislators working on moving the Feb. 17 DTV transition date.
For instance, the percentage of completely unready African American households is almost 10% (9.9%), and the number of Hispanic households almost the same at 9.7%. Minorities are among the populations that have been expected to be impacted more by the transition.
Jonathan Collegio, the National Association of Broadcasters point person on the DTV transition, argues that the Nielsen figure overstates DTV unreadiness since it does not take into account people who have applied or are waiting for the coupon. "If somebody is waiting for a coupon, they are not technologcally capable of receiving digital at that moment," he says, "but it is not like they are completely unready. They are ready enough to have taken the initiative to apply for a coupon."
He also points out that the Nielsen converter box figure does not take into account people who have the boxes but haven't hooked them up yet. "Our research shows that two-thirds of converter box owners have not installed their converter boxes yet, which suggests that this number is a bit inflated," he says.
Nielsen spokeswoman Anne Elliot concedes that, "yes, it could be that the digital box is sitting there and hasn't been connected. That is a possibility, absolutely."
NIelsen's projections are based on a sample of about 37,000 metered households.