13% Of Households Do Not Subscribe To Cable

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) submitted comments yesterday in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Public Notice requesting information on television viewers whorely exclusively on over-the-air (OTA) broadcasting, such as why they do not subscribe to a pay television service such as cable or satellite. The FCC also sought comment on options for minimizingthe impact on OTA viewers when analog broadcasts cease.

In its filing, CEA provided research showing that about 13 percent of households do not subscribe to cable and/or satellite services. The majority of non-subscribing households are making a conscious decision not to subscribe for reasons other than economic limitations. In addition, those same households are making a conscious decision not to connect additional television sets to these services. Such additional sets may be reserved for use with a VCR or DVD player, or with a video game system.

CEA also commented that in order to minimize the impact on OTA viewers when analog broadcasts cease, all industries involved in the DTV transition must play a role to ensure that consumers continue to have access to advertiser-supported, free OTA broadcast signals.

“Broadcasters, who by definition reach all OTA viewers have been encouraged to increase their efforts to educate their viewers about the DTV transition,” CEA wrote. “This could be done during analog broadcasts, TV listings or by running public service announcements.”

Additionally, CEA encouraged cable operators to support digital cable ready (DCR) integrated television sets with an adequate stock of CableCARDS to provide a seamless viewing experience for new digital viewers.

“All digital cable-ready television sets also include a digital OTA tuner,” CEA noted, “so the success of these sets in the marketplace also increases the number of households with OTA capability, furthering the transition’s goals.”

CEA also urged retailers to help aggressively inform viewers about the DTV transition and encouraged them to take advantage of the materials CEA has made available to them for point-of-sale distribution. These materials include CEA’s consumer brochure titled, “A Consumer’s Guide to the Wonderful World of HDTV,” which also is available as a DVD, and the retail “Tip Sheet,” which includes DTV terminology, definitions and logos for easy reference during customer interaction. Earlier this year CEA also launched an online retail-training program – www.ceknowhow.com. The site has already attracted more than 4,000 sales associate visitors.