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DTV countdown tips

Stations that selected option two from the NAB's consumer education plan menu must continue to air at least one of the following per day until the transition on Feb. 17:

  • Graphic displayA graphic super-imposed during programming content reminds viewers there are “x number of days” until the transition and visually instructs them to call a toll-free number and/or visit a Web site for details. The length of time displayed may be from five to 15 seconds, at the discretion of the station.
  • Animated graphicA moving or animated graphic provides a countdown reminder that there are “x number of days” until the transition and visually instructs viewers to call a toll-free number and/or visit a Web site for details. Again, the length must be between five and 15 seconds.
  • Graphic and audio displayThis option consists of either a still or an animated graphic display that includes an added audio component and lasts from five to 15 seconds.
  • Longer form remindersStations can choose from a variety of longer form options to communicate the countdown message. One example is a segment where viewers call in to a phone bank and ask knowledgeable people questions about the transition.

Stations choosing the other consumer education options have increased obligations as the time draws closer to the transition, but without the specific additional types of announcements.

Consumer ed specifics

As of Oct. 1, stations that chose option one had to increase the number of PSAs and crawls they must air in each quarter of the day to three each.

As of Nov. 1, noncommercial stations operating under option three were expected to increase the amount of DTV consumer education time to at least 180 seconds per day and 22.5 minutes per month (between 6 p.m. and midnight).

Commercial stations operating under option two and noncommercial stations that chose option three must air, between 8 a.m. and 11:35 p.m., at least one 30-minute informational program about the DTV transition by Feb. 16. Many stations may have already fulfilled this obligation, but for those that have not, the time in which to do so is drawing shorter. Stations must air such programming on both their analog and primary digital programming streams. The program may air simultaneously on both, but this is not required. The important thing is that there is a separate 30-minute informational programming requirement for each channel. Both channels may air the same 30-minute program, either simultaneously or at different times, or they may air different programs on each channel, if they choose.

During the last 90 days before transition, if a station wants to permanently reduce or terminate either its analog or pretransition digital service, it must notify both the commission and its viewers at least 30 days in advance of the termination of analog service. The FCC notification must be done electronically. Viewer notifications should contain specific information including, but not limited to, the station's call sign, the community of license and the date of termination of analog broadcasting. Announcements must be broadcast four times per day, including once in prime time.

Harry C. Martin is a past president of the Federal Communications Bar Association and a member of Fletcher, Heald and Hildreth, PLC.


  • Feb. 1 is the deadline for TV stations in the following states to file their biennial ownership reports: Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Jersey and New York.
  • Feb. 1 is the deadline for TV stations and Class A TV stations in the following states to place their 2008 EEO public file reports in their public files and post them on their Web sites: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, New Jersey, New York and Oklahoma. LPTV stations originating programming in these states, which are not required to have public files, must post these reports on their Web sites and keep them in their station records.

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