FCC Asked To Fully Fund Post-Auction Consumer Education


America’s Public Television Stations (APTS), with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Broadcasting Service, on Wednesday (9/26) urged the FCC to fully fund the consumer education program established by Congress to help television viewers adjust to new channel assignments required in the aftermath of the 2017 spectrum auction.

Taking the lead on the issue is APTS President/CEO Patrick Butler.

In a statement, which accompanies a public television filing made with the FCC, Butler said, “America’s Public Television Stations are grateful to the Commission and the Congress for their commitment to ensuring that broadcasters have the resources they need to repack their channels following the spectrum auction and to ensure that our viewers can enjoy a smooth transition to the new channel assignments necessitated by the auction.”

In its filing, available here, the three groups urge the Commission to follow Congress’s explicit directive and invest $50 million in a comprehensive consumer education program as television channels are repacked over the next two years into a narrower band of broadcast spectrum.

The three groups also took a moment to commend the Commission for anticipating that a successful consumer education initiative requires a multi-media response — including consumer service call centers, special outreach to those who need special help with the transition, and active engagement with local media.

“Public television stations have a long and successful history of close interaction with their viewers, through fundraising drives and partnerships in local public services,” Butler said. “Several of our stations have already completed their channel repacking, and this robust community connection has already proven quite helpful in smoothing the transition for our viewers.

“We hope that the FCC will enlist public television stations in a nationwide effort to ensure that our resources are put to good and full use in this consumer education initiative – and that the congressionally-mandated funds will cover important activities like station staff training, staff time on the call centers, on-air promotional announcements, website work and social media time, among other extraordinary expenses required by the auction and its aftermath.”