WASHINGTON: The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) recently hired Crosby-Volmer International Communications (CVIC) to put together a multimillion-dollar speakers' bureau to educate consumers on the February 17, 2009, switchover from analog to digital TV.
The switch will leave those consumers without cable or satellite TV service or with analog TVs that lack converter boxes - about 18% of the population currently - unable to get any service unless they purchase a converter box, for which the government is providing $40 vouchers.
With only about 30% of the US public aware of the switchover, and fewer still aware when it will occur, CVIC president Rob Volmer said outreach must focus on a wide variety of audiences.
Between September 2007 and February 2009, the firm is organizing about 8,000 appearances by local TV broadcasters, GMs, and other station employees at chambers of commerce, schools, senior centers, and elsewhere.
"Putting them out there in the community is a great way to reach both the business community and the people affected directly," said Volmer, who recently visited Sweden and the UK to study how those countries handled their switchover to digital TV.
About 11 CVIC staffers are working on the effort, including the firm's Hispanic outreach group, with biweekly webinars used to train broadcasters on the transition details. The NAB also plans to launch PSAs in multiple languages by the end of 2007.
Complementing the effort is www.DTVanswers.com, a Web site that CVIC created during previous digital TV-related work for the NAB.
Major makers of set-top boxes have also formed a consumer-education group and created a related site - http://www.dtvcoalition.com. Both their effort and the NAB's initiative complement similar grassroots and online outreach by the Federal Communications Commission and the National Telecommunications & Information Association.