Commission clarifies aspects of DTV educational rules

The Federal Communications Commission has tweaked and clarified some of the requirements it adopted in March regarding education of consumers about next year’s DTV transition with the release of an Order for Reconsideration.

At the same time, the commission issued a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, seeking input on whether requirements established in March directing eligible telecommunications carriers to provide monthly notices of the DTV transition to low-income subscribers should be expanded to all subscribers. The commission also wants comment on whether it should require multichannel video programming distributors (MVPDs) to provide on-air DTV transition notices on their systems.

As part of its effort to clarify the March rules, the FCC limited a provision covering devices related to television receivers that must include consumer DTV educational information. They include:

  • television broadcast receivers;
  • TV interface devices;
  • devices that record and/or display signals received from television broadcast receivers; and
  • set-top boxes available from retail sale that receive video programming from MVPDs.

Under the rule, manufacturers must supply DTV transition information with MVPD set-top boxes regardless of whether or not they have a TV receiver. According to the commission, the information is needed to “counter consumer confusion about the functioning of such boxes in light of the over-the-air digital transition.”

The order also addressed concern raised in several ex parte filings regarding who is actually responsible for including consumer education information with devices covered under the order. The commission clarified who it regards as the responsible party by directing parties to “Section 2.909 of the Rules in order to determine the ‘responsible party’ for the purposes of enforcement of this rule.”

The commission addressed a concern that the original rules could be interpreted to require “secondary logistics” centers to open packed devices and insert educational information. The commission clarified that the rule applies to products that are packed and sealed for retail sale by a manufacturer, not simply to devices shipped by parties while the rules are in effect.

The commission also gave manufacturers more time to comply with its rules regarding inclusion of consumer educational notices with their devices. Originally, the rules became effective immediately, but after reviewing ex parte filings from multiple consumer electronics manufacturers and associations, the commission reset the effective date to May 30, 2008.

To read the order and further notice in its entirety, visit: