FCC to Ask for National DTV Test May 21

The Federal Communications Commission is planning to ask broadcasters that have not yet gone digital-only, to conduct a nationwide “DTV test” on May 21, in advance of the June 12 analog shutdown, according to the Wall St. Journal.

Broadcasters have voluntarily conducted such tests on a local basis since 2008 but this would be the first test conducted nationwide. The FCC test would be different than the voluntary tests—rather than shut off the analog signal for a brief period of time, the May 21 test would involve the suspension of regular programming to be replaced by the airing of a public service announcement about the DTV transition for five minute intervals at 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 6:30 p.m., according to FCC officials. The test would not apply to those nearly 500 broadcasters who have already shut down their analog signal.

The NAB released figures last week that indicated that approximately 2 million U.S. households are still unprepared for the June 12 analog shutoff. Nielsen Media Research, which is also tracking DTV preparedness put the number of unprepared households at 3.4 million.

The FCC has not publicly announced the test, and it has not yet been determined whether the test will be mandatory or not.