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Alaska First Stop on Commission’s DTV Mega-Tour

What kind of star power do FCC commissioners have? They’ll learn soon in some of the 81 cities identified as at-risk in the DTV transition that will get actual in-person visits from at least one of the five commissioners.

First on the list: Robert McDowell, in Anchorage, Alaska, Aug. 27.

In each market, they’ll collaborate with NAB and local broadcasters for events and media outreach to get DTV into the local consciousness, possibly coordinating drills, tests or previews of the full-power analog shutoff set for Feb. 18.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin joined NAB and representatives from the Consumer Electronics Association, the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition and the National Telecommunications and Cable Association to announce the road show at a press conference at the Newseum in Washington Aug. 18.

In each of the identified markets, more than 100,000 household or more than 15 percent of households rely exclusively on over-the-air television. Martin said the commissioners picked their own destinations in the style of a sports draft.

Martin didn’t provide a price tag for the 80 visits but said $12 million re-approved this summer by Congress for consumer education was “a critical part” of making the venture possible. He said there still could be the opportunity for Congress to appropriate more finds for education after it returns from summer recess.

Martin played down concerns about people losing TV because of poor DTV reception, saying fewer than 5 percent of over-the-air households would be so affected; Cable giant Comcast recently said up to 20 percent of over-the-air viewers in its footprint might be driven to seek subscription TV after the transition.

The commission released a schedule of visits to 23 of the markets They are:

  • Anchorage, Alaska, Aug. 27
  • Fairbanks, Alaska, Aug. 28
  • Baltimore, Md., Sept. 8
  • San Francisco, Sept. 11
  • Houston, Sept. 17
  • Austin, Texas, Sept. 18
  • Memphis, Tenn., Sept. 19
  • New York, Sept. 27
  • Boise, Idaho, Sept. 29
  • Atlanta, Sept. 29
  • Missoula, Mont., Sept. 30
  • Helena, Mont., Oct. 1
  • Bozeman, Mont., Oct. 2
  • Billings, Mont., Oct. 3
  • Nashville, Tenn., Oct. 7
  • Charlotte, N.C., Oct. 16
  • Denver, Oct. 16
  • Seattle, Oct. 20
  • Spokane, Wash., Oct. 21
  • Portland, Ore., Oct. 23
  • Chicago, Nov. 20
  • Phoenix, Dec. 29