Adelstein makes the Vegas scene


FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein unveiled the Commission’s new, enhanced website dealing with the DTV transition – showing off the consumer-friendly site Tuesday at the FCC’s NAB Show booth in Las Vegas. Adelstein put in an appearance the previous night at the Community Broadcasters Association (CBA) gathering in the Las Vegas Hilton, praising the LPTV operators for localism and assuring them, “We want to see you survive.”

Adelstein, who is soon to leave the FCC for a new Obama Administration post at the Department of Agriculture, noted as he unveiled the new website that it would be the last NAB Show before the actual digital transition. “I promise, this really is the last one,” he joked.

Adelstein got in some digs at the previous Republican FCC regime. “If we had gone ahead with the transition on February 17th, I think it’s pretty clear it would have been pretty rough,” he said. The Commissioner said that much has been done to be better prepared for the new June 12th date. Even so, he admits that there will still be some people who won’t do anything until they find that they can no longer watch TV – but, hopefully, that will be a small number of people.

The new versions of the website that Adelstein unveiled on Tuesday is designed to be consumer-friendly. Key features include a localized DTV reception map, a trouble-shooting page, where to get help locally and a page with data on whether things stand with the DTV transition. 

Adelstein said the website is also a resource for broadcasters, noting that “many of our most at-risk consumers don’t have access to the Internet.” And broadcasters are being asked to help the FCC populate a page featuring local DTV transition events.

Also new is a DTV brochure created in cooperation with Consumers Union – “DTV Made Easy.” It features “5 simple steps to upgrade to digital television.”

FCC officials noted that last week’s analog turn off by a significant group of stations – with Denver the largest market with a major involvement – produced only 300 inquiries to the FCC’s DTV call center, although local stations got thousands. The most common problem, Adelstein noted, was that people don’t know that they have to rescan for digital signals, since some stations changed their digital channel location when they turned off analog.

Adelstein had noted the economic pressures on the television industry the previous day when he put in a brief appearance at the CBA meeting. “You’re something of the canary in the coal mine,” the Commissioner told the LPTV operators. But he is a big fan of those small stations. “I think localism is the key to survival. Even the giants are figuring that out,” he said.