Jules Verne chronicled a fictional attempt to go around the world in 80 days. The FCC has its own plan, sending one commissioner each to what it thinks will be the 80 most challenged DMAs when it comes to pulling off the DTV transition. The challenge level is defined by the percentage of viewers relying on over-the-air broadcast stations for television service.
Martin said the FCC was able to cull $12M in unspent funding from several years past to finance the new effort, in which the five commissioners held an “NFL draft” and picked markets to visit in turn. He’ll be looking for about $20M more before Congress adjourns this fall.
The visits will feature soft turnoffs of analog service, which has proven to be an effective way to get viewer attention, and precisely the attention of viewers who need to take action to preserve their viewing ability on 2/17/09.
Martin said that consumer awareness is moving along at an acceptable rate, and that the FCC was simply making an extra effort to assure that the transition goes smoothly.
NAB Television Board Chair Jim Yager was on hand at the Newseum event in Washington. He noted that NAB and its members have dedicated $1B to the DTV transition, and that they will provide full support for each commissioner trip, including coordinating the temporary analog shutoffs.
In a joint statement, NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr and Yager said, “We applaud Chairman Martin and the FCC commissioners for their commitment to helping Americans make a smooth transition to digital television. The FCC DTV tour is an outstanding example of public service that will ensure more viewers are informed about the transition and get answers to questions they may have about how to upgrade to digital television…With six months left until the transition is completed, broadcasters will do everything possible to make sure Americans are prepared for the historic switch to free digital television and can enjoy all the benefits digital offers.”
So far, 23 visits are scheduled. Only two will take place in August, Anchorage AK 8/27/08 and Fairbanks AK 8/28/08.
Other markets will be able to access a speakers bureau organized by the FCC, which will send knowledgable individuals to take part in on-the-ground educational efforts in conjunction with broadcasters and grassroots organizations.
Here are the 80 markets earmarked for visits.
Albuquerque-Santa Fe, New Mexico; Anchorage, Alaska; Atlanta, Georgia; Austin, Texas; Baltimore, Maryland; Bangor, Maine; Billings, Montana; Boise, Idaho; Boston, Massachusetts; Bozeman, Montana; Charleston, South Carolina; Charleston, West Virginia; Charlotte, North Carolina; Chattanooga, Tennessee; Chicago, Illinois; Chico-Redding, California; Cincinnati, Ohio; Cleveland-Akron (Canton), Ohio; Colorado Springs,-Pueblo, Colorado; Columbus, Ohio; Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas; Dayton, Ohio; Denver, Colorado; Des Moines-Ames, Iowa; Detroit, Michigan; Duluth-Superior, Minnesota; El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, NM); Erie, Pennsylvania; Fairbanks, Alaska; Fort Wayne, Indiana; Fresno-Visalia, California; Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Michigan; Green Bay-Appleton, Wisconsin; Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina; Harlingen-Weslaco-Brownsville-McAllen, Texas; Helena, Montana; Honolulu, Hawaii; Houston, Texas; Idaho Falls-Pocatello, Idaho; Indianapolis, Indiana; Joplin, Missouri-Pittsburg, Kansas-Kansas City Missouri; Knoxville, Tennessee; La Crosse-Eau Claire, Wisconsin; Lansing, Michigan; Laredo, Texas; Los Angeles, California; Lubbock, Texas; Madison, Wisconsin; Memphis, Tennessee; Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota; Missoula, Montana; Nashville, Tennessee; New York, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Phoenix, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Richmond-Petersburg, Virginia; Rochester, New York; Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto, California; Saint Louis, Missouri; Salt Lake City, Utah; San Antonio, Texas; San Diego, California; San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California; Seattle-Tacoma, Washington; South Bend-Elkhart, Indiana; Spokane, Washington; Springfield, Missouri; Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida; Toledo, Ohio; Tucson, Arizona; Tulsa, Oklahoma; Twin Falls, Idaho; Washington, DC; Wausau-Rhinelander, Wisconsin; Yakima-Pasco-Richland-Kennewick, Washington; Yuma, Arizona-El Centro, California