FCC Details Guidelines for DTV Help Centers

Outlines hours of operation, requirements for staffing, training and equipment

The DTV Countdown: Continuing Coverage of the DTV Transition

The FCC has given broadcasters more guidance on how they must set up and publicize the DTV walk-in help centers that are part of the educational requirement for stations that have not yet transitioned to all-digital.

In an order released Friday, the FCC said that the centers need to be open from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. at a minimum on seven days afterward; they must be open every day at least from noon to 8 p.m.; and they must be staffed with at least one person who has been trained to demonstrate and install equipment, including scanning and rescanning for channels and using closed-captioning.

The centers also must contain an analog TV, a DTV-to-analog converter box, a VCR or DVR, an antenna that can receive local signals, printed literature and DVD's on how to hook up converter boxes and outlining reception issues, including for people with disabilities, as well as signal coverage maps.

But wait, there's more. The centers must have a computer with high-speed access so consumers can apply for DTV-to-analog converter box coupons online and access other information.

There must be a toll-free number so viewers can get info on the center's hours of operation.

Stations must air PSA's about the centers and update them within 10 business days of any changes in operation.

The help center requirements apply to the almost 1,000 stations that have yet to pull the plug on analog but not to any station that has already done so, or to low-power stations.