The Commission released an Order on Monday, March 3rd requiring broadcasters, MVPDs (i.e., cable, satellite), manufacturers and wireless service providers to commence specific public outreach initiatives to educate the public on DTV Transition matters. The Commission had released proposed rules in July, 2007, and has now taken steps to implement several of the proposed rules.
On the broadcast side, the Commission will require TV licensees to select one of three outreach programs. Each of the options includes a mix of Program Service Announcements (PSAs) and video crawls – all of which must be reported back to the FCC on a new form (FCC Form 388) describing the efforts. For example, under the first option, television stations would be required to air 15-second PSAs and run one 15-second video crawl four times a day, totaling 28 of each during the week. The second option would require only an average of 16 30-second video crawls and an average of 16 30-second PSAs each week, along with additional announcements in the last 100 days prior to the end of the Transition, and a "bug" on the screen that will provide a countdown to the end of the transition. The third option will be available only to noncommercial broadcasters, and would require them to air 60 seconds per day of consumer educational programming between now and April 1, and then 120 seconds per ay from May 1, 2008 to October 31, and finally 180 seconds per day from November 1 until the Transition. The Commission is not placing any requirements on Low Power and Class A television broadcasters, but urges them to commence educating the public with regard to the end of the DTV Transition.
On the MVPD side, the Commission will require that notices be placed in the monthly consumer bills, providing notice of the DTV Transition, and referring the consumer to other sources of information, including www.DTV.org. The Commission will require telecommunications carriers that provide Lifeline/Link-Up services to also include similar notices with their monthly bills. As for equipment manufacturers, each television receiver or other device intended to work with television receivers (i.e., converter boxes) shipped after the effective date of the rules must include information relating to the DTV transition, including how the transition will affect the use of the purchased device. Finally, the Commission committed to work with NTIA on making sure that their consumer help desks are staffed with persons knowledgeable about the transition.
The rules adopted in the order will become effective as soon as they are published in the Federal Register. The forms that are required to be filed will not become effective until after OMB approves them.