FCC Releases DTV Education Proposal

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As advertised, the FCC has asked for input on proposals to quantify and monitor the TV industry's initiatives to educate consumers about the Feb. 17, 2009, transition to digital television and the federal program to subsidize digital-to-analog converter boxes, which will ensure no analog-only sets go dark after that date.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin revealed to a House Telecommunications & Internet subcommittee FCC oversight hearing audience last week that the commission was looking into a variety of enforcement mechanisms, many of which had been suggested by House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) in tandem with Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.).

An FCC source later confirmed the proposal had been approved by commissioners on the previous Saturday.

Among the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking's proposals are requirements for public service announcements (PSA) and station reporting of those efforts; mandatory notices from consumer manufacturers and training by retailers; and changes to the public/private DTV.gov education effort.

House Democrats are particularly eager to get the broadcast PSA campaign going--broadcasters plan a December launch--and to insure that target populations including the poor, minorities and the elderly are sufficiently notified of what will be the biggest change in TV technology in the history of the medium.

Legislators on both sides of the aisle are also concerned about potential voter backlash if the transition does not go smoothly.

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