FCC: Negotiations With Canada, Mexico, Needed for DTV Transition

Bilateral agreements with Canada and Mexico will need to be modified and negotiated to complete the DTV transition, the FCC reminded Congress Wednesday.

Unresolved cross-border interference issues have hampered some stations’ attempts to maximize their new DTV licenses. In small, rural markets along the international borders with limited cable service and no carriage on satellite, broadcasters fear some viewers may be unable to receive the channels by any means after the end of full-power analog in February 2009.

The note came in the FCC’s five-year strategic plan, consisting mostly of broad, vague, common-sense goals such as expanding broadband availability, using spectrum efficiently and fostering an environment that stimulates innovation.

The document also anticipates growing consumer complaints against broadcasters and calls for more staff to handle the load. The vast majority of consumer complaints against broadcasters regard charges of obscenity or indecency.

The FCC also asserted broad authority to mandate private sector cooperation in homeland security efforts.

“The commission shall ensure that every segment of the U.S. communications industry—digital and analog, wired and wireless, terrestrial and satellite, IP and non-IP—regardless of network technologies, does all it can to enhance public safety and homeland security,” the plan said.