FCC sets DTV education workshop


Stepping up efforts to inform all segments of the US population to the shut-down of analog television signals in 2009 and final transition to Digital TV, the FCC has set the preliminary agenda for an all day workshop on Wednesday, September 26th. Organizations representing a broad range of consumers and other stakeholders will be represented, including those who represent senior citizens, low-income consumers, non-English speakers, people with disabilities, tribes, and public interest organizations working on behalf of underserved customers or those living in rural areas, the Commission said. FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is scheduled to kick off the day with his remarks. The first panel will have government (FCC & NTIA) and industry representatives (NAB, NCTA, Consumer Electronics Association & Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition) explaining their roles in the DTV transition. The rest of the day will feature representatives of various consumer interest and advocacy groups. "The purpose of the workshop is to provide an opportunity for all interested parties to jointly discuss the challenges associated with the upcoming transition and explore ways to develop coordinated consumer education activities," the FCC said.

TVBR observation: Much remains to be done by that February 17, 2009 deadline. TV stations, both commercial and non-commercial, have a lot at stake, but their public information and education efforts alone won’t be enough. We are heartened to lately see the FCC cracking down on retailers who’ve continued to sell analog sets without warnings that they could become useless in 2009. Now we need to see DTV converter boxes out in the marketplace so that people can actually get them and start watching digital stations. Our great hope is that 2/17/09 will prove to be as minor an event as Y2K proved to be (only because of lots of advance work), but we have fears that will not be the case.