NAB seeks president’s help to educate public on DTV transition

David Rehr, president and CEO of the National Association of Broadcasters, has sent a letter to President George W. Bush encouraging the executive branch and federal agencies to take a more active role in educating the public about the transition to digital television.

In his letter, Rehr wrote about the "tremendous national importance" of letting people know about the Feb. 17, 2009, deadline (less than 300 days from now), when more than 34 million American households will "officially and permanently" transition from analog to DTV.

He wrote that broadcasters have made a national commitment to invest more than $1 billion toward educating the American public about the DTV transition. Since late 2006, each American household "will either hear, see or otherwise be exposed to a DTV message approximately 642 times before February 17, 2009."

"We are bringing this to your attention now, because while our research shows that consumer awareness about the transition has reached nearly 80 percent, many are still learning about their available options to receive a digital signal."

Among the ways Rehr said that President Bush and his administration could help:

  • President Bush’ participation, or that of the vice president of the United

States, in a DTV educational television spot.

  • Including an Internet link to DTV information on every government agency Web site.
  • Displaying DTV transition posters in all U.S. Postal Service offices,
  • Including DTV transition flyers in government checks, such as those from the Social Security or Veterans Affairs Administrations.
  • Including DTV transition flyers in all government payroll statements.
  • Producing a DTV transition postage stamp authorized by the U.S. Postal Service.

Rehr also cited the effort the country launched for the Year 2000 (Y2K) changeover. "We will need a similar effort of such scale for the DTV transition to succeed," he wrote.

"The DTV transition will fundamentally change the way the American people get news about their communities, emergency situations and entertainment. We want to enlist the help of the federal government and the Administration to ensure that happens as seamlessly as possible."