FCC Chairman Kevin Martin made his pitch to a House Appropriations subcommittee Tuesday for $1.5 million for a DTV education campaign. That would be in addition to the $5 million the National Telecommunications & Information Administration got for its campaign to promote the DTV converter box subsidy program.
The request was part of a pitch for an extra $4.5 million for four projects. The DTV money, said Martin, would " allow the Commission to initiate a wide range of outreach projects to help educate consumers about the DTV transition," though he didn't say what those efforts would be.
FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, for one, thinks the DTV transition education campaign is woefully underfunded, though the broadcast, cable and consumer electronics industries have pledged to do their part with PSA campaigns, in-store promotions, bill-stuffers and online education.
The NTIA is also trying to leverage its limited budget, working with the Food Stamp program and Veterans Administration to piggyback on some of its mailings. Seniors and the low-income households are a key target population for outreach.
Martin said the rest of the money would go to the Inspector General ($1 million) to combat "waste, fraud and abuse"in the universal service fund, which the telecom industry pays into to subsidize phone service in rural and other areas; to replace vehicles use to investigate interference to public safety communications($2million), and to replace its "antiquated" accounting system ($ 1 million).