The Nation's full-power television stations will transition from analog broadcast television service to digital broadcast television service on February 17, 2009. The Federal Communications Commission (the “Commission”) released the DTV Consumer Education Order requiring television broadcasters, Multi-Channel Video Programming Distributors (MVPDs), telecommunications carriers, retailers, and manufacturers to promote awareness of the nation's transition to digital television. The educational efforts of these diverse groups are intended to provide consumers with clear and correct information about the DTV transition.
The DTV transition will provide consumers with better quality television picture and sound. It will also make valuable spectrum available to significantly improve public safety communications and will usher in a new era of advanced wireless services such as the widespread deployment of wireless broadband.
The Commission has been committed to working with representatives from industry, public interest groups, other governmental entities, and Congress to make the significant benefits of digital broadcasting available to the public and minimize the potential burdens the transition could impose. The order takes numerous steps designed to facilitate a smooth transition, including:
o Broadcasters must provide on-air information to their viewers about the DTV transition, and have the flexibility to comply with one of three alternative sets of rules to best serve their widely divergent communities. Broadcasters must report these efforts, on a quarterly basis, to the Commission and the public.
o Multichannel video programming distributors (“MVPDs”) must provide monthly notices about the DTV transition in their customer billing statements.
o Manufacturers of television receivers and related devices must provide notice to consumers of the transition's impact on that equipment.
o DTV.gov partners and winners of the 700 MHz spectrum auction must provide the Commission with regular updates on their consumer education efforts.
o Telecommunications companies participating in the Low Income Federal Universal Service Program must provide notice of the transition in their monthly customer billing statements to their low income customers and potential customers.
o FCC will assist the National Telecommunications and Information Agency (“NTIA”) in ensuring that retailers are fulfilling their commitment to the converter box program.
Action by the Commission February 19, 2008, by Report & Order (FCC 08-56). Chairman Martin issuing a statement; Commissioner Tate issuing a separate statement; Commissioner Copps concurring and issuing a separate statement; Commissioner McDowell approving in part, concurring in part and issuing a statement; and Commissioner Adelstein approving in part, dissenting in part and issuing a statement.