Public TV Request FCC Fully Fund Consumer Repack Education

WASHINGTON—Public TV broadcasters Sept. 26 urged the FCC to fund fully the consumer education program set up by Congress to help TV viewers learn about new TV channel assignments stemming from its repack of television spectrum.

America’s Public Television Stations (APTS) and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting made the request in a filing with the agency.

“In today’s filing, we urge the Commission to follow Congress’s explicit directive and invest $50 million in a comprehensive consumer education program as television channels are repacked over the next two years into a narrower band of broadcast spectrum,” said APTS President and CEO Patrick Butler.

The APTS head had praise for the FCC’s recognition that educating consumers successfully requires a multi-media response, “including consumer service call centers, special outreach to those who need special help with the transition and active engagement with local media.”

Pointing out that public broadcasters have a long track record of engaging with viewers through efforts such as fundraising drives and local partnerships, Butler said several public TV stations that already have completed their repack have drawn on these close community ties to smooth the transition for viewers.

“We hope that the FCC will enlist public television stations in a nationwide effort to ensure that our resources are put to good and full use in this consumer education initiative – and that the congressionally-mandated funds will cover important activities like station staff training, staff time on the call centers, on-air promotional announcements, website work and social media time, among other extraordinary expenses required by the auction and its aftermath,” said Butler.

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Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.