Digital TV transition tour to hit NASCAR circuit

October 16, 2008

Federal regulators and U.S. lawmakers are trying every trick in the book from Web sites to road shows to make sure Americans know that the digital television transition is coming soon — which could mean those without cable or satellite would only see black unless they buy a new television set or get a converter box.rtx78xz.jpg

On Thursday the Federal Communications Commission decided to take their efforts one step further — to NASCAR. The agency plans to sponsor driver David Gilliland (car #38) for three races of the widely popular spectator sport.

“I believe this sponsorship is an extremely effective way for the FCC to raise DTV awareness among people of all ages and income levels across the United States who loyally follow one of the most popular sports in America,” said FCC Chairman Kevin Martin.

Another FCC commissioner, Robert McDowell, earlier this week warned that the transition will be messy and pressed broadcasters to step up their campaign to educate the public about the Feb. 17, 2009 switch to the higher quality signals.rtr9x1j.jpg

Some 15 percent of U.S. households use only analog sets so they would have to buy a converter box or a new set. The Government Accountability Office has warned that regulators are unprepared for an expected surge in consumer demand for help when the transition arrives.

The government has offered $40 coupons to help consumers buy converter boxes but the GAO has said there is no plan to deal with the last-minute spike in demand for them.

(Photos: Reuters)

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