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FCC launches DTV outreach program

The FCC’s five commissioners as well as agency staff will hit the road between now and Feb. 17, 2009, visiting TV markets where more than 100,000 households rely solely on over-the-air TV reception in an effort to boost the public’s awareness of the February 2009 DTV transition, FCC chairman Kevin Martin said Monday.

Making the announcement during a press conference at the newly opened Newseum in Washington, D.C., Martin said the commissioners and staff will participate in a variety of activities aimed at drawing attention to the impending DTV transition. Visiting FCC personnel will attend public forums, including town hall meetings, workshops and roundtable, and speak to the press to highlight the transition.

So far, the commission plans to visit 81 markets, including Fairbanks, AK; New York City; Boise, ID; and Chicago, although more stops may be added. Besides markets with more than 100,000 OTA, the commission plans to visit locales where at least 15 percent of the households rely exclusively on off-air reception.

The public outreach campaign also will include increased use of radio and TV DTV PSAs. The aim of the effort is to educate consumers in targeted markets, particularly those groups the commission deems as most vulnerable to transition, about the DTV transition.

Additionally the commission will work with the NAB to identify DMAs where broadcasters could temporarily turn off their analog signals in an attempt to help viewers identify their state of readiness for the DTV transition.

“We intend to take whatever actions are necessary to minimize the potential burden the digital transition could impose on consumers and maximize their ability to benefit from it,” said Martin.

To view a list of market visits with planned dates, see “Scheduled FCC market visits.”

To view a list of markets the FCC plans to visit, see “Markets to be visited by FCC before Feb. 17, 2009.”