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CEA launches YouTube contest on DTV transition

The Consumer Electronics Association has teamed up with Google's YouTube to sponsor a contest encouraging homemade public education videos on the DTV transition.

The Consumer Electronics Association has teamed up with Google's YouTube to sponsor a contest encouraging homemade public-education videos on the DTV transition.

The contest, entitled "Digital TV: Convert Now!", will award a tricked-out home entertainment center to the producer of the best video that "educates the public on how to prepare friends and family for the digital television (DTV) transition," according to the Web site. To get the ball rolling, the Association enlisted the country act Whiskey Falls, whose call-out video is available on the site now.

The tone set by the video is quite patriotic--hey, these are country boys--and centered around the worthwhile notion that viewers should educate "friends and family" on the transition. Those words are backed up by images of an elderly lady struggling in vain with a rabbit ear antenna, then saved from the horror of a snowy screen by a helpful, long-haired band member with a converter box. Since many YouTube viewers are probably familiar with the idea of the transition, it makes sense to encourage them to spread the word to people who might be less-informed.

Dish Network's TR-40 CRA is actually free with a $40 coupon. Dish Network

I also noticed not-so-subtle hints of consumerism in the video--hey, this is the CEA. The portion that explains the transition actually takes place at Best Buy. The video mentions the DTV coupon program, but only after showing another band member loading a new HDTV into a happy customer's cart with the lead singer's voiceover laying out more-profitable alternatives: "You can choose to buy a new digital television, subscribe to cable, satellite, or pay TV services, or, you can apply for a government coupon worth $40, to use to get a converter box."

I'd at least expect Whiskey Falls to mention that such a coupon brings down the cost of the transition to $20 or less when you buy a box. Hopefully the winning video will focus less on buying a new TV and more on converting to digital for nearly free.

According to the official rules, the deadline for submissions is 11:59:59 p.m. (ET) on November 23. After that, a panel of judges from the CEA and American University will select five finalists. Beginning December 1, the finalists will be posted on YouTube for a 10-day public voting period, which will determine the grand prize winner.

What's your take? Do you think the contest will have a positive impact on public education efforts, or is it mainly just empty promotion? Are you planning to submit a video, or at least vote on a finalist? Sound off in comments.