Bush Administration Budget Includes $20M to FCC for DTV Education

Federal Communications Commission Currently Gets Nothing for DTV Education; Inspector General's Office Asks for $1.9M

The Federal Communications Commission will get another $20 million in 2008 for DTV education if the Bush administration has its way. That would be a big increase from its current DTV-education appropriation, which is $2.5 million for FY 2008, according to the an FCC source.

In submitting its budget, the administration included the FCC's request for that money to help it get viewers ready for full-power TV stations' Feb. 17, 2009, switch to digital broadcasting. The FCC asked for a total of $338.9 million for fiscal-year 2009, which begins in September 2008.

The commission said it will use the money for "producing and distributing consumer-oriented educational materials; using news media to spread information through media tours and public-service announcements; attending and presenting at events and conferences representing a wide array of consumers; leveraging the Internet to disseminate information; coordinating with state, local, and tribal entities; and distribution of direct mailings to targeted groups."

House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) said Monday that wasn't nearly enough money. "While the President’s proposed budget would increase the Federal Communications Commission’s budget for consumer outreach about the digital television transition," he said, "I am concerned about the size of the increase.

“The President has proposed an additional $20 million dollars for educating consumers about digital television.  When added to the original $5 million that was allotted [to the National Telecommunications & Information Administration] by the Republican Congress that enacted this program, this is far too little to educate a nation of 300 million people...we should not be attempting this transition on the cheap.” 

The FCC's Inspector General's Office also asked for $1.9 million, part of which will be used to "expand its audits of the commission’s activities and functions."