Washington — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Monday unveiled plans for a nationwide outreach program to hasten its public educational efforts on the Feb. 17, 2009, transition to digital television.
FCC chairman Kevin Martin said he and his fellow commissioners have divided up the key markets of the country to visit in an effort to increase the visibility on the steps residents must take to continue receiving over-the-air TV broadcasts prior to the transition date.
The FCC identified target television markets for specific DTV outreach, including all those markets in which more than 100,000 households or at least 15 percent of the households rely solely on over-the-air signals for television.
The FCC commissioners and staff members will fan out to hit all of the identified markets, and more, prior to February. At each stop, a public event will take place, such as a town hall meeting, workshop or roundtable with an FCC commissioner to highlight the digital transition. Local press will be invited.
In coordination with these visits, the FCC will work with local broadcasters and radio stations to increase the broadcasts of radio and TV DTV public service announcements (PSAs).
The combined effort is designed to educate all consumers in these DMAs, but especially groups deemed to be “most vulnerable in the transition:” seniors, people living in tribal and rural areas, people with disabilities, individuals with low-incomes, minorities and non-English speakers.
Martin said in dividing up the country among the commissioners and staff, the commission conducted an “NFL-style draft,” with each commissioner choosing markets to visit in round-robin fashion.
In announcing the effort, Martin was joined by representatives from the NAB, Consumer Electronics Retailer Coalition, Consumer Electronics Association and the National Cable Telecommunications Association.
“As part of our efforts to prepare consumers for the transition, we have identified television markets in which the largest number of viewers will have to take action to be prepared for the transition six months from now,” stated Martin. “This unprecedented nationwide tour by the entire commission is part of our commitment to prepare and educate consumers about the digital television transition.”
In the coming weeks, an FCC commissioner will be in the following cities:
Anchorage, Alaska 8/27/2008
Fairbanks, Alaska 8/28/2008
Baltimore, Maryland 9/8/2008
San Francisco, California 9/11/2008
Austin, Texas 9/18/2008
Houston, Texas 9/17/2008
Memphis, Tennessee 9/19/2008
New York, New York 9/27/2008
Boise, Idaho 9/29/2008
Atlanta, Georgia 9/29/2008
Missoula, Montana 9/30/2008
Helena, Montana 10/1/2008
Bozeman, Montana 10/2/2008
Billings, Montana 10/3/2008
Nashville, Tennessee 10/7/2008
Charlotte, North Carolina 10/16/2008
Denver, Colorado 10/16/2008
Seattle, Washington 10/20/2008
Spokane, Washington 10/21/2008
Yakima, Washington 10/22/2008
Portland, Oregon 10/23/2008
Chicago, Illinois 11/20/2008
Phoenix, Arizona 12/29/2008
Martin said the commission will release periodic updates on markets that it will visit as future trips are finalized.
Prior to each visit, FCC staffers will provide technical and outreach assistance to local broadcasters, community leaders, and other stakeholders, to prepare for the transition to digital. The FCC will also be coordinating with the NAB to explore whether the DMAs may participate in a temporary turn off of their analog signals (“soft tests”) to determine consumer readiness of the DTV transition.
The following is a list of areas the FCC will visit prior to Feb. 17, 2009.
Albuquerque-Santa Fe, New Mexico
Charleston, South Carolina
Charleston, West Virginia
Charlotte, North Carolina
Cleveland-Akron (Canton), Ohio
Colorado Springs,-Pueblo, Colorado
Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas
Des Moines-Ames, Iowa
El Paso, Texas (Las Cruces, NM)
Fort Wayne, Indiana
Grand Rapids-Kalamazoo-Battle Creek, Michigan
Green Bay-Appleton, Wisconsin
Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina
Helena, Montana Honolulu, Hawaii
Idaho Falls-Pocatello, Idaho
Kansas City, Missouri
La Crosse-Eau Claire, Wisconsin
Los Angeles, California
Miami-Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota
New York, New York
Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina
Richmond-Petersburg, Virginia Rochester, New York
Saint Louis, Missouri
Salt Lake City, Utah
San Antonio, Texas
San Diego, California
San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California
South Bend-Elkhart, Indiana Spokane, Washington
Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida
Twin Falls, Idaho
El Centro, California