Study points to hot spots for analog TV


WASHINGTON -- TV viewers in the West and the heartland depend more on antennas to get their favorite shows and are the most likely to have trouble when broadcasters switch off their analog signals next year, according to a study released on Thursday.

Using Nielsen Media Research data, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights and Consumers Union found that viewers depend more on over-the-air broadcasts west of the Mississippi than in the east.

"Many of them, unless they take some action, won't be able to receive a signal on Feb. 18, 2009," Consumers Union policy analyst Joel Kelsey said.

At 11:59 on Feb. 17, broadcasters will turn off the analog signal they've used since TV broadcasting began and air only a digital TV signal. Analog TVs that aren't hooked up to a cable or satellite service or a digital-to-analog converter box won't get the digital signal.

The cities where the largest population depends solely on over-the-air broadcasts are Salt Lake City, Houston, Dallas and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kelsey said. Cities that have the highest dependence on over-the-air broadcasts often have large minority and poor populations, the study says.

Hispanics, African-Americans and people making less than $30,000 a year depend more on an antenna than on a subscription service, he said.