According to Investor's Business Daily, all analog TV broadcasts in the United States will cease on Feb. 18, 2009, in accordance with a federal mandate to switch to digital transmissions. Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey said the segment of the U.S. population that has not replaced their analog TVs with digital models—about 20 percent—will be unprepared for the changeover.

A Forrester poll last year estimated more than 50 percent of respondents were unaware of the analog-to-digital transition, while 19 percent were aware but did not know what it implied, and 16 percent were in favor of the switch.

“The federal government mandated the transition to digital but has failed to make the case to the American public for the decision,” said John Lawson, chief executive of the Association of Public Television Stations.

According to Lawson, the government has invested approximately $10 million to educate consumers about the transition. A large portion of the federal education initiative will stress making consumers aware of a program to subsidize their purchase of digital converter boxes.

The National Association of Broadcasters recently rolled out a campaign to educate consumers through public service announcements and other types of information spots, while electronic retailers also are notifying consumers.

According to a study by the General Accounting Office, people believe the Federal Communications Commission should take the lead role in educating consumers, but the agency’s commissioners apparently cannot agree on a strategy to follow.  EC