Adelstein worried about digital transition


Whomever is elected President in November, they had better be ready to hit the ground running for the shut-off of analog TV a month after taking office in January, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said Friday at the NAB Radio Show in Austin. He was not comforted by the Wilmington experience and worries that a similar outcome nationwide in February would swamp DTV transition help lines with over two million calls.

“I’m a little worried about it,” Adelstein said of the coming shutoff of analog television as all full-power stations go digital only in February. Since he was speaking to the NAB Radio Show in Austin, the Commissioner urged his audience to get radio stations more involved in helping to get the word out about the DTV transition.

Adelstein is also continue to push for stricter sponsorship identification as product placement in television shows becomes more and more common. “The disclosure is pretty fleeting…when it whips by in the credits,” he said. Adelstein said he would like to have the same disclosure requirements for commercial use of the airwaves as currently apply to political ads. He didn’t spell out just where such disclosures would be placed in a half-hour or hour show, which are obviously quite different from a 30-second political spot.

The Commissioner is a strong proponent of localism as well, but admits that no action on the FCC’s current proceeding in that regard is likely this year. He gave his audience the blame or credit, depending on your point of view. “You’ve raised such a ruckus,” Adelstein said, that no vote on a localism rulemaking is expected this year. However, he said it would be helpful if the NAB would engage the issue in a positive way instead of just fighting against the proposals.

Chairman Kevin Martin had told the Austin gathering a day earlier that he thought it would be possible to resolve the localism debate if broadcasters would develop a statement of “best practices’ to ensure that stations are serving their communities. Asked by RBR/TVBR if he might support such an outcome, Adelstein said he’d like to see what the Chairman proposes, but that “a statement of best practices would be a step forward.”

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