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Over 1000 stations finished with DTV transition, says Martin

A total of 1030 full-power television stations have reported to the Federal Communications Commission that they have finished every aspect of their DTV transition, FCC chairman Kevin Martin has told a Senate committee.

Testifying April 8 before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Martin presented a wide-ranging progress report on the coming Feb. 17, 2009, DTV transition. The chairman laid out for the committee where broadcasters stand on the path to completing the transition; transition-related rulemaking covering broadcasters, cable and satellite operators; FCC enforcement actions taken against retailers that allegedly failed to conform to commission rules; and efforts to educate the general public and specific population segments, including the elderly, non-native English speakers and low-income households.

According to the chairman, the number of stations “completely finished with their DTV transition” is based on a report on the status of the construction of post transition facilities that the FCC required stations file. Broadcasters not finished with their transition are required to report again on their status by Oct. 20, he said.

Of all full-power TV broadcasters in the United States, 1180 will stay on the same channel they currently use for their NTSC transmission, and 635 will move to a new channel assignment. Of those staying in place, 1030 “have completed construction and are already providing full service to their viewers,” Martin told the committee.

Martin also quoted statistics from a variety of sources to illustrate his point that while pubic awareness of the upcoming transition has risen dramatically from a year ago, “too many Americans remain confused about what they need to do” to get ready for the DTV transition. For example, results from an Association of Public Television Stations survey found 17.5 percent of over-the-air consumers who know about the transition are unaware of what they will do about it, and 10 percent told researchers they would do nothing.

In concluding his presentation, Martin acknowledged the next 10 months leading up to the transition “will undoubtedly by challenging.” However, the chairman expressed the hope that the work of government, industry and advocacy groups will allow Americans to “reap the rewards that the digital transition has to offer.”

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