FCC Seeks The Publics Comments On Digital TV Switch

This week belongs to the Federal Communications Commission, FCC. For the first time FCC wants to open it´s doors to the public, regarding digital TV. FCC seeks comments from everyone who cares on the proposed DTV education initiatives for the transition to DTV. Ad to that FCC member Adelstien´s call for a DTV transition task-force during yesterdays ACA meeting in Monterey. Last but not least – FCCs vote on the auction of spectrum in the 700-megahertz band.

I think FCC goes out of it´s way to listen to the audience, stakeholders and everyone involved or engaged in the transition -while there is time. Or is FCC seeking to refine it´s own role in the transition?

Here is what FCC is looking for better understanding of:

The NPRM seeks comment on proposals to help convey the timing, logistics and benefits of the DTV transition to consumers, including:
• Broadcaster Public Service Announcements, other Consumer Education Requirements, and Reporting
• Notices in Cable, Satellite, and other MVPD Bills
• Notices from Consumer Electronics Manufacturers
• Employee Training by Consumer Electronics Retailers
• Adjustments to the DTV.gov Partners Program

This can be viewed as the most critical parts for the moment of the U.S DTV transition. The first thing that comes to my mind is that this is a great effort but very formal. Why don´t FCC invite stakeholders, NABs TV Coalition and everyone else to a physical meeting in D.C. Use technology to have a real interactive and engaged meeting to listen in to everyone’s ideas and proposals to make the transition successful and deliver the comments that FCC asks for?

The second thing that comes to my mind is the question if this is what FCC wants to have more knowledge about – isn´t this very much the same that NAB and the DTV Coalition is preparing to launch?

The third thing is that nothing is mentioned about information campaigns as such and budgets. Two fundamental parts of the transition.

Another concern that may be important is that the DTV information campaigns will run during a election year. Usually it might be hard to compete with the audiences attention when political ads and news events are taking place.

From experiences made in Germany, U.K and Sweden suggests that much of the work in the beginning of the process leading up to transitions, was focused on getting the stakeholders and the industry to work together. In Sweden it took about a year to get the stakeholders to agree and work together on unified messages, campaigning efforts as well as shared budgets. In UK there is a huge organization working with different parts of the transition since a couple of years back. They have even sorted out what might happen with all the litter, old TV-sets and how to take care of it all.

A year ago I visited NAB, FCC and stakeholders in D.C. When asked if there was or would be some kind of a hub that would manage the U.S transition – everyone tilted their heads, had a short silent look at me and said: “Well you know United States doesn´t work like that”. I guess one proof of that is FCC now seeking to refine its role in the transition as such.

Anders Bjers


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