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Though an overwhelming majority of US households are ready for the changeover to all-digital television next month, 5.7% – or 6.5 million homes – remain unprepared and would not be able to receive TV at all if the switch occurred today, reports The Nielsen Company.?

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This is an improvement of more than 1.3 million ready homes since Nielsen reported readiness status at the end of December, the company said, though many of the unready households include people with low incomes, minorities, disabled persons and seniors who most rely on traditional, free TV for much of their information about the world.

“It is imperative that we operate at an accelerated pace to educate those who are at the greatest risk of losing their television service. These viewers rely on traditional television the most and can least afford to lose their television lifelines. We have a responsibility to make sure that these groups whether in our families, churches or communities are equipped and ready for this transition,” said Cynthia Perkins-Roberts, a member of the Nielsen African American Advisory Council (AAAC).

Local Market Rankings

Among the 56 local markets that Nielsen measures with electronic meters, the one that is least ready is Albuquerque-Santa Fe, with 12.4% of the households completely unready.

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At the other end of the spectrum, the most prepared market is Hartford & New Haven, with only 1.8% of homes unready.

“Nielsen has been preparing for the transition to digital television for more than two years,” said Nielsen vice chair Susan Whiting. “Because we recognize that accurate and reliable information on consumer behavior is essential to this transition, we’ve been sharing our data with clients, government leaders and the public so they can track progress to digital readiness.”

Under government-mandated action, all television stations are required to switch to digital programming by February 17,? which will leave viewers without a television signal unless they purchase digital television sets, connect to cable, satellite, and alternate delivery systems or purchase a converter box.

About the research: Data is based on the same national and local television ratings samples that are used to generate national and local television ratings. To conduct the survey, Nielsen representatives observed and tabulated the actual televisions used in its samples. Because Nielsen has developed samples that reflect the total US population including African American and Hispanic populations, these household characteristics in the samples can be projected to the whole country.

More information on the US state of readiness for digital transition can be found here.

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