blind_html [Fwd: FCC nixes early DTV switch for 123 stations;368 on track]

  • From: Nimer <nimerjaber1@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: blind_html@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 13 Feb 2009 07:55:06 -0700

-------- Original Message --------
Subject:        FCC nixes early DTV switch for 123 stations;368 on track
Date:   Fri, 13 Feb 2009 06:00:26 -0500
From:   Ray T. Mahorney <coffee-craver@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Reply-To:       Blind-chit-chat@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
To:     <Undisclosed-Recipient:;>

FCC nixes early DTV switch for 123 stations; 368 on track <>

Are you one of those 123 full power TV stations still seeking FCC
permission to make the DTV switch on or right after February 17? Here's
what ya gotta do.

You can bet your expired DTV converter box coupons that there are a
bunch of full-power TV stations across the United States rushing to meet
Federal Communications Commission guidelines for making the
analog-to-digital switch early. "Early," of course, now means on or
after the old DTV date: Tuesday, February 17. The new Final Day is June 12.

The DTV Delay Act, however, gave the FCC authority to set conditions for
letting license holders do the transfer as per the old schedule, more or
less. In turn, the Commission has given 368 early birds the green light.
But the agency has also told 123 stations that, at this point, "their
early termination poses a significant risk of substantial public harm."

Here are the eight requirements that the FCC says these stragglers must
fulfill to get a DTV early pass. They've got until Friday the 13th, six
pm EST, to file a statement of certification with the Commission that
they've met them. In fact, these licenses don't even have to offer some
of these services themselves, but they've got to assert that some
station in their area will do the job.
At least one nightlight

First, the applicants must show the FCC that, in their Nielsen-defined
Designated Market Area (DMA), at least one station will continue to
broadcast DTV transition information in analog format for sixty days
after February 17, as well as "enhanced nightlight" service: local news
and public affairs programming.

But don't confuse this "enhanced nightlight" term with the agency's
analog nightlight program, which authorizes stations to continue
broadcasting, post DTV hoc, a bare bones message in analog telling stray
viewers whose sets still can't pick up digital that they need to get
their act together, fast.

Second, this on-air education must include "demonstrations of converter
box installations, antenna setups, and other helpful information."
Third, it must be broadcast in Spanish and accessible to people with
disabilities, providing closed captioning, among other services.

Fourth, the station must show that TV watchers in their signal region
will have access to data disclosing areas that could lose coverage
thanks to phenomena such as the digital cliff effect (see the last
paragraphs of this story). "Such information may include detailed maps,"
the FCC says, "listings of affected communities, and instructions on how
to assess what type of antenna may be necessary to retain or regain the
station's digital signal."
Operators standing by

These licenses must also promise to provide viewers with local or
toll-free telephone DTV support. "Such assistance," this fifth
requirement stipulates, "may be provided jointly with other stations,
organizations, and businesses in the area." Sixth, they must offer some
kind of consumer "walk in" center to help viewers with set-top converter
boxes and demonstrate how they work. They can set this up with others
stations or businesses as well.

Seventh, they must show that they are currently and will continue
broadcasting DTV-related PSA crawls on their analog signal from February
10 through 17 explaining that the station will drop its analog
transmission on February 17. The crawls must be aired five minutes of
every hour for the first five days, and 10 minutes of every hour for the
final two. They must disclose the FCC's call center number too:

Finally, and rather vaguely, "each station will consider and is
encouraged to coordinate with and use community resources to provide
consumer outreach and support, including in-home assistance."
Last resort

If some of these signals don't think they can commit to these
requirements, they can file a five-page statement explaining why not
making the switch on February 17 will result in "extreme economic
hardship." But, the FCC warns, it does not anticipate "that many
stations will be able to meet the high burden applicable to this showing."

How rigorously will the FCC review these statements of certification? It
doesn't look like the agency is going to rush inspectors out to these
areas over the weekend to audit them. "Stations certifying to the above
conditions are permitted to cease analog operations on February 17, 2009
without further authorization by the Commission," the FCC's Public
Notice concludes.

On the other hand, the Commission warns that it will take "appropriate
action against stations that certify they will meet the conditions, fail
to do so and nevertheless go off the air on February 17, 2009."

Hmm. "Off the air"? Did they mean switch to digital broadcasting? Whatever.

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