The FCC today released a Public Notice stating that their DTV Consumer Education rules will go into effect on Monday, March 31, when they are published in the Federal Register. Thus, broadcast television stations need to immediately be prepared to start complying with these rules.  These rules require that broadasters pick from a set of three plans setting out very specific consumer education activities.  Under Option 1, the option which originated from the FCC, PSAs about the transition would need to start running immediately – 4 spots a day on Monday, and 8 a day on Tuesday, April 1.  We expect that most stations will follow Option 2 – the NAB plan – as it provides more flexibility. But even under the NAB plan, you will need to be running at least 16 30-second PSAs and 16 crawls, all providing information about the transition, during the coming week.  Noncommercial stations also have a third option.  For specific information on the requirements, see our memo on the requirements of the new rules, or review the full Commission order, here.

On April 10, stations will also need to file the new Form 388 for the first time.  On this form, stations will need to specify which of the Options they are selecting (an irrevocable option).  Stations will also need to detail the consumer education education efforts that they have engaged in over the previous quarter – which obviously would have been voluntary efforts prior to the effective date of the new rules on Monday.
Continue Reading FCC Rules on Consumer Education to Go Into Effect on Monday – Broadcast and Cable Systems Should Be Ready to Start Compliance Efforts Immediately

Although many TV stations are already airing PSAs and other programming designed to educate the public about the upcoming digital television transition, the FCC released an Order containing very specific requirements  for these educational initiatives.  These rules mandate public education efforts about the DTV transition by television broadcasters, multichannel video providers, and electronics manufacturers.  In addition, the new rules require that television stations file a quarterly report on a new form, FCC Form 388, with the FCC (that is also placed in the station’s public file and on its website) certifying compliance with the requirements of the rules and setting out specifics of other consumer educations efforts about the DTV transition that the station has undertaken.The requirements will become effective immediately upon publication in the Federal Register, and continue through March 31, 2009, for all full power stations who complete the transition to their full DTV facilities by February 18, 2009.

The FCC has established three options for meeting the educational initiatives requirement, two of which are available to all TV stations, and one of which is available to noncommercial stations only.  Each has very specific mandates as to how many PSAs about the digital transition are required, and how much additional content (crawls, various over-lays onto programming, long-form programs) are required to meet the obligations.  Thus, broadcasters and others subject to these rules should review the specific requirements carefully.Continue Reading FCC Announces DTV Consumer Education Requirements – Very Specific PSA Obligations Placed on Broadcasters