Analog TV service will end when 85% of TV households can receive a digital signal. But what of the other 15% who could lose TV service altogether?
The FCC wants to find out who those people are and "why they do not subscribe to a pay service."
The second part of that question is particularly important, since the FCC's Media Bureau is offering a plan, alternately credited to Chairman Michael Powell and Media Bureau Chief Ken Ferree, that would count TV homes toward that 85% DTV home penetration trigger if they received a digital signal converted to analog by their cable company.
In most markets, adopting the plan would mean that the 85% threshold has already been reached. That would leave the other 15% facing loss of service immediately unless they buy DTV sets, subscribe to cable or buy or are given a converter box. It was the fate of those viewers that had broadcasters and others concerned by the plan when it was first announced.
The FCC is seeking comment to help identify consumers relying solely on over-the-air TV, and to "minimize the impact on these and other consumers when broadcasters are operating solely in digital."
Comments are due July 12, and reply comments (further reactions to the initial comments) Aug. 5.
The House Telecommunications Subcommittee is holding a hearing June 2 on the FCC's plan.