• FCC Adopts DTV Transition Rules of the Road
  • April 3, 2009 | Authors: Jennifer L. Richter; Jennifer A. Cetta; Carly T. Didden
  • Law Firm: Patton Boggs LLP - Washington Office
  • In a continuing effort to ease the pain of the DTV transition, the FCC released an Order with “rules of the road” to protect and prepare consumers and ensure broadcasters have the flexibility to switch to digital before the final June 12 deadline. The FCC adopted policies and procedures to further provide an analog lifeline of vital news, public affairs and emergency broadcasts to consumers who need more time for the switch. In addition to the analog lifeline, broadcasters who have not yet transitioned are required to educate consumers about possible digital television reception problems and how to solve these problems.

    The FCC’s Order establishes further procedures for stations that want to terminate analog service before June 12th. Generally, stations may not terminate analog service before April 16, 2009, and must air viewer notifications for at least 30 days before they cease analog service. Affiliates of the major networks including ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC that wish to terminate analog service prior to June 12th must ensure that at least 90% of their analog viewers will receive continuing analog service from another major network affiliate through June 12th. If more than 10% of the analog viewers of a major network affiliate lose service from all major network affiliates, then that major network affiliate is responsible for assisting with walk-in help centers, consumer referral telephone numbers, and DTV education and outreach. Stations may do so either individually or collectively.

    Finally, the Commission provided broadcasters with additional flexibility by allowing stations to terminate analog service at any time of the day on their final day of analog service with notification of the approximate termination time. The FCC also eliminated the requirement for most stations to continue broadcasting DTV transition educational information after they have terminated analog service.