NAB Proposes Vague DTV Education Plan

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Washington – The National Association of Broadcasters -- partly in concert with a TV industry coalition that includes cable operators and programmers -- plans to provide local TV stations later this year with four to six public service announcements (PSAs) designed to educate the public about the analog TV cutoff on Feb. 17, 2009.

In a letter Tuesday, NAB’s Joint Board chairman Jack Sander described to Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin the numerous steps being taken to heighten consumer awareness about the government-imposed DTV transition. According to NAB, 60% of Americans – 180 million people – are “completely unaware” of the move to all-digital broadcasting.

Among other things, Sander’s letter said one “fully produced” 60-second and four to six 30-second PSA spots would sent to local TV stations by the end of the year. But Sander did not describe whether NAB members stations had committed to run the PSAs in front of large prime time audiences in lieu of lucrative advertisements.

Sander’s letter also didn’t describe the content of the PSAs, including whether or not they would inform broadcast-only homes that they could turn to their local cable company for local TV signals.

Broadcasters have been reluctant to discuss their timetable for PSAs – which are considered the best hope of raising consumer awareness about the DTV transition – because they want to be sure first that the $1.5 billion federal converter box coupon program is up and running and that big box electronics stores have a sufficient inventory of converter boxes.

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