FCC seeks DTV transition helpers


Focusing on DMAs with the highest concentration of people seen at-risk for not making the digital transition, the FCC is seeking proposals for Expert In-Home DTV Transition Services and DTV Walk-in Help Centers. The Commission had previously issued a solicitation for DTV call-center operations. The plan is to have assistance readily available for at-risk demographics.

The FCC has divided the nation into six regions: Pacific, West Central, Southwest, East Central, Southeast, and Northeast. The target demographics include low-income individuals, minority communities, non-English speaking consumers, senior citizens, consumers living in rural areas or on tribal lands, and consumers with disabilities. The FCC will also target specific DMAs that appear to be lagging in DTV readiness.

The major concern going forward, according to testimony at a House hearing, is the available supply of converter boxes. Other problems remain, but none are so great that they have eliminated the belief from some, particularly among Republicans, that we could have gone ahead and pulled off the transition as planned on 2/17/09 with minimal disruption to American television viewing.

RBR/TVBR observation: The best and perhaps most surprising news we’ve been seeing as the DTV transition unfolds is the Nielsen-reported fact that senior citizens, rather than being the most at-risk group as many expected, are in fact just about the most prepared group of citizens in the nation. But when they need help, they will really need help, and there are real problems with other groups – so this FCC initiative is a good thing.