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FCC Reminds Broadcasters of Consumer Help Obligations

Concerned that broadcasters will be deluged with calls from consumers when stations begin shutting down analog signals on Friday, the FCC this week reminded stations of their obligations to provide consumer referral numbers to the Commission, and to publicize the numbers so that their viewers can get local help about the station’s transition to digital.

“We take this opportunity to remind broadcasters that they should be prepared to answer phone calls from their viewing public in the hours immediately after their transition and in the days to follow,” the commission said.

Stations are required to provide a telephone number that could serve to receive local consumer calls and consumer referrals from the FCC’s National Call Center. The line to be provided for consumer referral purposes may be operated and staffed by the station itself, by a group of stations in a market, or by a third party entity, such as a state broadcasters’ association, so long as it can serve as a source of information and assistance for consumers with questions. Since April 1, stations have been required to publicize this number on a daily basis as part of their obligations under the DTV Consumer Education Initiative.

Station help lines must be staffed during business hours with personnel prepared to answer complex questions, particularly regarding necessary actions to take to get reception in specific locations, and other engineering issues, particularly on June 12 and the days afterwards.

The FCC’s National Call Center will be active 24 hours a day for the days surrounding the June 12 transition.