FCC Eyes 80 Markets for DTV Push

NEW YORK The Federal Communications Commission has identified 80 markets for a nationwide initiative to increase awareness of the transition to digital TV on Feb. 17, 2009.

The outreach plan includes holding a public event in each market.

Markets on the list vary from some of the largest to some of the smallest, from New York, Chicago and Boston, to smaller venues such as Lubbock, Texas, Helena, Mont., and Twin Falls, Idaho.

Beginning on Sept. 8 at noon, Wilmington, N.C., will serve as a test market for the DTV transition. Broadcasters will transmit all their commercial programming on digital channels only and provide information about the DTV transition on the analog channels. Other stations have also conducted or plan to conduct similar tests.

Markets the FCC plans to visit prior to the transition deadline include those in which more than 100,000 households or 15 percent of households rely solely on over-the-air signals for TV. The plan is also designed to educate those consumers most vulnerable to losing TV reception because of the transition such as seniors, people living in tribal and rural areas, those with disabilities, individuals with low-incomes, minorities and non-English speakers.

Although some 80 percent of consumers are currently aware of the DTV transition, another 20 percent could still be left in the dark.

“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,” said Kevin Martin, chairman of the FCC.

“This unprecedented nationwide tour by the entire commission is part of our commitment to prepare and educate consumers about the digital television transition,” Martin said. The National Association of Broadcasters and the DTV Coalition will be assisting the FCC throughout the tour.

At each stop, there will be a public event, town hall meeting, workshop or roundtable with an FCC commissioner on hand.