Copps Revives Plan for DTV Test Run

Democratic FCC Commission Michael J. Copps renewed his call for test run of DTV transition in select markets ahead of the February 2009 shutoff of full-power analog TV.

A response from FCC Chairman Kevin J. Martin indicated he was “in favor of pursuing” such a notion.

Among other issues, said Copps, field tests could explore DTV reception across various topographies and distances from transmitters, using different antenna types.

“As you acknowledge, there are many technical and practical challenges with planning and conducting full-scale test markets so close to the transition date,” Martin said in his response to Copps. “For example, as you note, this would require the voluntary participation of an entire community or market and would be challenging from a consumer education perspective.”

Martin said he would ask the FCC DTV Task Force to coordinate with industry stakeholders to begin exploring the initiative.

The authors of a recent study that found problems for DTV viewers, especially those further than 35 miles from a transmitter, celebrated what they called Martin’s “agreement” for limited field tests,

“Since the release of the Centris study, our position has been and remains to increase dialogue on the national, regional and local level with respect to the issue of digital TV receptivity and the need for consumers to consider antenna upgrades,” said Barry Goodstadt, Centris senior vice president. “The government’s response to conduct field tests in sample markets is an encouraging development toward seeing these issues addressed.”

Centris has more tests planned for other markets, a spokesperson said.