Tuesday, February 24, 2009

DTV Transititon: Conspiracy Theorists

Last summer, as part of research I was doing when I worked at Lehman Brothers, I interviewed about 100 randomly chosen people on the streets of Wilmington, NC, about the Digital Television Transition. Wilmington was the first TV market in the nation to "go all digital" and we wanted to figure out if we could learn anything in advance of the September 8, 2008, switch date that might be of interest to investors.

It turns out there wasn't much. However, the thing that really surprised me was the degree of anger and suspicion evinced by the people we interviewed. Quite a few expressed the view - without our asking - that the whole thing was a big-brotherish plot by the Federal Government to spy on them. One art gallery owner in Burgaw, NC, told me, "honey, people here don't believe we landed on the moon. You expect them to think that there's nothing fishy about a government-mandated box in their living room that does nothing but let them get free TV?"

Well, it turns out conspiracy theories have a lot gas left in them, even if they are provoked by hoaxes like the video below:

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