Licensees in the 700 MHz band and universal service fund (USF) recipients would be required to report to the FCC on their efforts to educate consumers about the upcoming digital television (DTV) transition, pursuant to an order that the FCC is expected to release within days. According to FCC officials, the order—which began circulating last October—finally won the approval of all five FCC members, although Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Robert McDowell, respectively, intend to issue statements that dissent or concur in part. With completion of the DTV transition now less than one year away, the order would require USF recipients to include information about the transition in monthly bills sent to Lifeline and Linkup customers. Licensees in the 700 MHz band would be required to submit reports to the FCC that detail what steps, if any, they are taking to educate consumers about the DTV transition. Cable operators would be required to include flyers in customer bills, and manufacturers of televisions and related devices would have to post notices about the impact of the transition on their equipment. Broadcasters, meanwhile, would be covered by “safe harbor” provisions as long as they comply with industry DTV education efforts that, among other things, include the airing of public service announcements. The safe harbor provision had been championed by Commissioners McDowell and Deborah Tate, who had raised constitutional concerns with plans to mandate broadcaster PSAs and who had delayed their votes while urging broadcasters to work with FCC Chairman Kevin Martin on a safe harbor provision. In remarks to the press, McDowell observed: “now that we have a path to a private sector solution . . . I think it’s a much better order.”
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FCC order would impose DTV education mandate on 700 MHz licensees
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