FCC issues new requirements for TV stations with DTV delay
Here are the highlights:
· The FCC extended the period during which all stations must continue to broadcast DTV consumer education information to June 30, 2009.
· For Option Two broadcasters (NAB Plan) they must continue to broadcast 16 spots and 16 “crawls, snipes or tickers” each week, one fourth of which must run in prime time. Stations will also have to begin running the 100-day countdown notices again at least once a day beginning March 4, 2009. The FCC is asking for comments on modifying the 100-day countdown requirement.
· Stations that broadcast the required 30-minute DTV instructional video before February 17 and which have already transitioned will not have to air another one. For stations which have not yet transitioned, the FCC asks for comment on whether it should require them to air an additional 30-minute program (include the new June 12 date) and whether that program should have to include information specifically about the particular station and market.
· The FCC will require stations to keep filing the DTV education reports on Form 388 through second quarter 2009. The FCC made clear that it will step up its enforcement of the DTV education rules: “we emphasize that full compliance with each and every aspect of the consumer education campaign option selected is required.”
Terminating Analog Service
· Any notices filed by stations to date for termination of analog service between February 17 and June 12 are deemed invalid.
· All stations must file a “binding notice” of their analog termination date by March 17, 2009.
· The FCC asked for comment on the procedures to follow for stations that want to terminate analog service before June 12. It tentatively concluded that no station will be allowed to shut off analog service before April 16, 2009.
· The FCC will treat affiliates of the top-4 networks seeking to terminate before June 12 differently from other stations. Affiliates seeking permission to terminate before June 12 must certify that (1) 90% of the analog viewers within a station’s Grade B contour will receive full analog service or “enhanced nightlight” service until June 12, and (2) it will comply with other public interest conditions. Without that certification, affiliates must continue to provide analog service. The certification must specify the other stations that will provide the continuing analog service.The FCC also proposes that affiliates terminating before June 12 must broadcast on-air educational information including demonstrations of converter installation, antenna setup, etc., and describing areas that will lose service. The FCC also proposes that they must provide local call-in assistance and “walk-in” centers, and on-air crawls.
· The FCC seeks comment on whether every station should be required to provide notice to viewers who will lose over-the-air service. The FCC proposes that stations be required to air PSAs about service loss if 2% or more of their analog viewers are predicted to lose service as a result of changes in their coverage area (even if the station gains viewers elsewhere). The FCC says that it would not include stations where the losses are due only to a change from VHF to UHF. The FCC asks if the PSAs must include references to specific communities, ZIP codes or neighborhoods, or whether stations should be required to show maps to demonstrate coverage changes. The FCC also asks for comments on whether stations should be permitted or required to provide the information directly to viewers, perhaps through direct mail.
· The FCC also proposes that all stations be required to inform viewers of the need to rescan periodically. It also asks if stations changing from VHF to UHF (or vice versa) should have to tell viewers about the need for different reception equipment.
Post-transition Nightlight Program will run (June 13 to July 12), and will be the original service, limited to DTV education and emergency messages. The FCC has asked whether stations that run post-transition nightlight service should be exempt from other DTV education obligations from period between June 13 and June 30.
Form 387 All stations are required to update their Form 387 DTV “report cards” by April 16, 2009