Herb Kohl (D-WI), chair of the Senate Select Committee on Aging, says he is going to introduce a bill which will coordinate the DTV education of consumers, particularly senior citizens. NAB EVP Marcellus Alexander assured the committee that NAB is doing what it can to move the ball forward.
FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein also testified at the hearing and agreed that the FCC, NTIA, Administration on Aging, state and local governments, stakeholders and watchdogs all need to participate in the process. He said, "The consequences of failing to mount a more aggressive outreach, awareness, education, and assistance campaign would be disastrous, so I applaud your leadership on the Aging Committee for focusing us on the need to activate now."
Marcellus told the panel, "I have managed television stations in Baltimore and Philadelphia, and I can tell you that broadcasters do not want to lose any viewers – period. And, they will do what it takes to ensure they don’t. Local broadcasters have a social and community responsibility to ensure that television viewers understand what they need to do to continue to receive their local television. It also makes good business sense. Let me be clear – DTV consumer education is the number one priority of NAB’s Television Board."
TVBR/RBR observation: It is a good thing that a lot of nerves are on edge inside the Beltway right now. Federal education and outreach funding has been decidedly on the cheap side thus far, and if it makes Washington nerves a little less jangly to up the federal ante, that certainly can’t hurt anything. But advertising is what broadcasters do for a living, and we are confident broadcasters will do a comprehensive job getting the word out about DTV, to seniors and anyone else who needs to know. We suspect broadcasters would probably request that most of the federal cash be kept ready to assure a steady flow of digital-to-analog converter boxes to the citizens who need them, including a ready supply of boxes on hand for that small minority of the population who somehow, some way will miss the message no matter what anybody does.
TVBR suggestion: With respect to the special needs of senior citizens, local television stations may want to organize a posse of civic-minded regular viewers via PSAs and the station website who can volunteer to assist seniors who need help picking up and installing new digital equipment or getting a converter box hooked up properly. We’d bet a large number of viewers would be happy to donate the small amount of time this will take, and it will look fabulous in the outreach portion of your public file.