FCC Prepares for DTV Complaints

FCC planning for rising complaints related to DTV transition.

The Federal Communications Commission is planning for rising complaints related to the digital-TV transition, including possible lawsuits against the commission, as well as for further media consolidation related to the costs of the switch-over to digital delivery.

The FCC isn't saying that all those things are a given -- just that it needs to be prepared if and when they happen.

That's according to a congressionally mandated strategic five-year plan the commission put out for comment Tuesday.

The agency said that among the factors that could impact its strategic goal of "the timely deployment of digital services" is further consolidation spurred by "ongoing changes in the methods of delivering news and entertainment" from the transition to digital delivery. The FCC pointed to increased upfront investments that won't see a return until the full rollout of digital.

And on the legal front, the commission pointed out that its latest media-ownership rules have been challenged in court. Given that Congress mandated "continued review" of those rules, there could be more challenges.

On top of that, it said, "Court challenges of FCC rules and policies to advance the DTV transition may also result."

The commission also wants to be prepared with enough people to handle DTV-related issues and complaints, should they arise in large numbers.

"The digital transition requires continuing education of FCC technical staff to maintain an up-to-date understanding of developments in communications technology," the agency said. "Moreover, to the extent the number of consumer complaints against broadcast stations continues to grow, the FCC must have sufficient personnel (e.g., attorneys and consumer-advocacy and mediation specialists) and technological resources to efficiently process such complaints in a timely manner."