House bill requires DTV information, education

Legislation has been introduced by a group of Republicans in the House to boost consumer educational efforts as the turnoff date for analog television approaches.

The legislation was sponsored by Reps. Joe Barton (R-TX), ranking minority member of the House Commerce Committee; Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), ranking minority member of the House Telecommunications Subcommittee; and former Speaker of the House Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-IL), who serves on the House Commerce Committee.

The legislation did not have Democrat backing and its prospects of passage in the new Democrat-controlled Congress were uncertain.

The NAB, however, offered enthusiastic support for the bill's requirements. It would mandate labeling at retail locations on new analog TV receivers, warning potential buyers of the analog turnoff in February 2009.

Cable and satellite operators would be required to include information in customer bills about the DTV transition and the digital-to-analog converter-box program.
Broadcasters would have to file regular reports with the FCC detailing what consumer education efforts they are undertaking, such as the airing of public service announcements. The FCC would also be required to create a public outreach program to help educate consumers.