FCC moves to tie up multiple DTV rule loose ends

The Federal Communications Commission moved Feb. 20 to address a variety of issues raised by the congressional extension of the DTV transition from Feb. 17 to June 12, including those related to the DTV consumer education initiative rules, the Third DTV Periodic Report and Order, the 700MHz band license periods and construction requirements and the analog nightlight initiative.

Regarding DTV consumer education rules, besides extending the duration of the requirements until the end of the second quarter, the commission revised the text multichannel video programming distributors and eligible telecommunications carriers should use regarding the transition in consumer notices. It also revised requirements for broadcasters regarding the way in which they notify the public of the transition in on-air notices.

Related to revisions to the Third DTV Periodic Report and Order, the commission changed a couple of key dates for stations. All stations must now notify the commission no later than March 17 of the date they will cease analog broadcasts. Additionally, all full-power TV stations must update their DTV transition status reports with the commission no later than April 16. The commission also revised construction deadlines and related rules.

As relates to licensees with plans for the recovered TV spectrum after the DTV transition, the commission extended the terms of 700MHz band construction benchmark deadlines for 116 days. The commission also extended the analog nightlight program leaving it in effect after the June 12 transition.

The commission also issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking related to other amendments to FCC rules to accommodate the new DTV transition deadline. Among the issues upon which the commission seeks comment are revisions to the consumer education rules requiring broadcasters to notify viewers of predicted loss of service; whether broadcasters should provide consumers with information on rescanning digital equipment and, where appropriate, the need for different equipment due to a change from UHF to VHF or vice versa; and proposed changes to the 100-day countdown for certain broadcasters.