NAB is planning a video, between five and eight minutes long, for stations to run during the 30-day “nightlight” extension beyond the Feb. 18 deadline for the end of full-power analog television broadcasting.
In a filing to the FCC, the association said it has already scripted the video and plans to start production early this month.
“We know from [the September analog shutoff in Wilmington, N.C.], and from analog shutoff tests across the country, that the majority of viewers who call hotlines have relatively simple questions,” NAB said in the filing. “At the end of the video, the program would promote a toll free number for viewers to call, which is the second part of the plan.”
The video, planned for production in both English and Spanish, will explain the background of the transition and discuss the purchase and installation of converter boxes, scanning and re-scanning of channels, antenna selection and positioning, and a checklist of what to do. It will end with toll-free numbers for viewers to call for more information.
NAB said it is working on a national hotline, and that 45 state broadcasting associations have set up either live or automated call centers to handle viewer problems around the transition date. When local reception is at issue, the NAB call center would refer viewers to local call centers where possible.
That’s in addition to an FCC call center, which could have as many as 2,300 live operators, according to a December letter from Chairman Kevin Martin to the House Telecommunications Subcommittee.
The cable industry also has plans for a coordinated call center, but has provided few details so far.
NAB also urged the FCC to allow sponsorships of the nightlight program to help defray the $3,500 to $15,000 it said it will cost stations to maintain the analog nightlights. NAB said the FCC should allow educational videos, produced by box manufacturers, about converter box installation and issues.
That programming details are at issue because the legislation allowing the extension permits only DTV education and emergency info on the analog channels after Feb. 17.
“Indeed, the Commission should promote policies that encourage, not preclude or discourage, such marketplace collaboration,” NAB said.
NAB and the Association for Maximum Service Television also said the FCC should allow as many stations as possible to exercise the nightlight option.
The FCC has already provided a list of markets and stations that will be eligible, but the broadcasters urged the FCC to allow many more stations to join without extensive engineering studies to prove non-interference. Most analog stations on Channels 2-6 should be eligible, NAB said, and the FCC should allow nightlight channels to operate on the same channel as DTV signals if they are more than 170 km (about 107 miles) apart.
Any interference could be corrected by a reduction in power levels, and would only last 30 days in any case, NAB said.
The NAB push for more eligible nightlight stations is opposed by the Community Broadcasters Association, representing Low-Power and Class A stations, which recommended only one nightlight per market in order to free up the analog channels as quickly as possible, in part for LPTV stations that want to use those slots for their own DTV signals.
The FCC is scheduled to vote on the nightlight rules Jan. 15.
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