FCC Plans Road Trip To Educate America About Digital TV

The FCC has decided to travel around the country and talk to people about the upcoming digital TV switchover.

…the five FCC Commissioners and other Commission staff will fan out to [selected] markets to raise awareness and educate consumers.

Dear FCC, please please please let these commissioners show up with cheezy t-shirts pulled on over their normal button-and-collar shirts. In fact, t-shirts for everyone! This is America, after all.

The FCC says they’ll visit every market “in which more than 100,000 households, or at least 15 percent of the households, rely solely on over-the-air signals for television.”

At each stop, there will be a public event, such as a town hall meeting, workshop, or roundtable, with an FCC Commissioner to highlight the digital transition, and be available to local press. In coordination with these visits, the FCC will work with local broadcasters and radio stations to increase the broadcasts of radio and TV DTV PSAs. All combined, this outreach is designed to educate consumers in these DMAs and especially those groups that are most vulnerable in the transition: Seniors, People Living in Tribal and Rural Areas, People with Disabilities, Individuals with Low-Incomes, Minorities and Non-English Speakers

It may sound like overkill, but then again the people most likely to be confused about it are probably the ones least likely to be online hitting sites like Consumerist and Gizmodo.

When will a commissioner be coming to your town? The FTC site doesn’t have info up yet, but you can probably check back at http://www.dtv.gov/ for more information.

To Enlighten All Regarding The Digital TV Transition” [SatNews]


Edit Your Comment

  1. thelushie says:

    It is reaching the point of overkill. If you watch tv, every other commercial (it seems) is about the transition. Ads abound, etc, etc, etc.

    And, really, if you are hitting sites like Gizmodo and Consumerist, chances are you don’t have rabbit ears on your tv (but given Comcast and Dish and its ilk, it might not be such a bad idea).

  2. gladiatory2k says:

    They have to find a way to spend all that money they collected from CBS for the Super Bowl. First thing to come to the commissioners’ minds? Road trip.

  3. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Anytime some agency or company says that people need to be educated about something means only one thing: Whatever they’re pushing is garbage!

    And broadcast digital TV sucks!
    Every time it rains in Chicago, my digital channels cut out!
    Every lightning flash is seen on the screen, it used to be only on one channel, now it’s all of them.
    I can’t even get the digital WBBM [CBS] & I’m just 9 miles from the transmitter!

  4. Quatre707 says:

    If some people are so dumb that they don’t understand the digital television transition yet, than they shouldn’t be watching television, they should be going back to school and getting an education.

  5. cynu414 says:

    I just got an HD TiVO which receives digital service unlike my previous analog version and surprise! All the shows have DRM from Cox so now I can’t transfer them to my other TiVo or to my computer.

    They adds may make DTV sound great but they might as well be saying “you may watch what we want you to when we want you to.”

  6. PDX909 says:


    Your kind of ignorant attitude makes me puke. You’d do well in Bank Of America customer service.

    I think that so far the government has done a piss poor job of educating the masses (especially the senior citizens) and confusing the issue with those stupid coupons. Considering how much money they made by selling off that part of the frequency spectrum they could have done a lot better. I think they’re acknowledging that by doing this road tour event.

    At a retail level, stores like Costco, Best Buy and Circuit City have confused some people by pushing HDTV equipment too (it’s their job after all) and making some people think that the new equipment cost is prohibitively expensive. I’ve actually interrupted 2 sales pitches to ‘correct’ a sales assistant that was informing an older customer about DTV. When I explained how easy the transition would actually the customers we really grateful. They almost paid 1500-2000 dollars for a TV that didn’t even have a tuner in it.

  7. kittenfoo says:

    You know, Americans are a strong people. I’m pretty sure that whether the FCC does this dog and pony show or not, we’ll figure out how to watch TV. We’re experts at it, after all.

  8. iCanhasLs2plz says:

    Why cant the RIAA/MPAA do something like this?


  9. nerdychaz says:

    The real digital transition is here and now, on the internet. I don’t have cable and I don’t even have an antenna or digital box thingy. I don’t watch TV on the TV. I watch it on the net, for free, broadcast by the networks themselves. There is your digital revolution.

    I heart Hulu!

  10. Rachacha says:

    The conversion is not being helped by cable companies telling their customers that analog TV is ending in 2009, and they will need to switch over to a digital (and high def) DVR for every TV, so you end up with grandpa having a high def DVR sitting on top of his large 22″ console TV (you know the one with the cabinet made of real wood), and sitting on top of that DVR is a top loading Beta deck with the clock flashing 12:00.

    For people 35-40 and under, making thw switch should not be a big deal as most of us grew up with technology and are used to technology changing overnight. Folks in their 60s and older are not accustomed to such change. My parents resisted switching from AOL Dial up to DSL for years (even though the two services were identically priced) because it was different and it scared them. Many of these people grew up not having a television, and if they did it was a small black and white screen. Walk into a TV store and you would be hard pressed to see a CRT television anymore so older people hear that a change to TV is coming and walk into their “knowlegable” Best Buy and assume that they need to but a 52″ Plasma because that is all that the store is selling.
    This road tour is a start, but I am not sure it will be enough. It will be interesting to see where they go. While Dallas and NYC will see big crowds of people (who probably subscribe to cable or satellite dish), it is the people in rural Kansas that don’t have Cable TV who really need the info.

  11. TrustUs says:

    Good luck with that. If Seniors, People Living in Tribal and Rural Areas, People with Disabilities, Individuals with Low-Incomes, Minorities and Non-English Speakers order the coupons (which are $40 visa cards) and it NEVER GETS TO THEM, they are out of LUCK. If the card is lost in mail, or stolen, there is no way to get another according to the US Department of Commerce which issues the coupons through their contractor IBM. There is no way to trace the visa credit card, so they say. The only recommendation they have is to find someone who isn’t going to use theirs, get them to apply for them, and give them to you.

    All these Seniors, People Living in Tribal and Rural Areas, People with Disabilities, Individuals with Low-Incomes, Minorities and Non-English Speakers will be happy to have their faces rubbed in this crap with all the media when the government cannot reissue the cards to them.

  12. TrustUs says:

    Wait ’til they try to actually get the coupons. For those groups that are most vulnerable in the transition: Seniors, People Living in Tribal and Rural Areas, People with Disabilities, Individuals with Low-Incomes, Minorities and Non-English Speakers, they’ll find that if the coupons don’t make it to them, they’re out of luck.

    Since it’s their government (using IBM as the contractor) any ($40 visa card) coupons that don’t get to them will not be reissued period. And nursing homes are just one address, so only one household.

  13. Sandtiger says:

    No matter how much they advertise this and give away free vouchers there are still going to be lot of people out there that will be complaining when they turn off analog signals.
    TV is the great equalizer.

  14. tobashadow says:

    I get my TV off the air and refuse to buy new TV’s as long as my two tv’s are still running that are 10 years old and was affected by the digital changer becasue the coupons expired before the box’s where in stock at the only retailer that carried them within 50 miles of my house. And the appeal was denied becasue of that. To this day i cant even buy one at full retail if i wanted one. And i can take a picture any day of the week there of the empty shelf.

    Please FCC come to my area and explain that!

    Since i know for a fact i am not the only one in my are affected.

  15. *shrug* I remember in 1998, on a trip to D.C., FCC people explaining to us that these laws had already been passed and it was already going to happen, and I kept asking “What about poor people? What about people who are isolated?” and I kept getting brushed off with the political equivalent of “Silly girl, we already SAID it’s going to happen, so why fuss your head?”

  16. zenhead says:

    DTV is a scam to getr us to all buy cable. i have rabbit ears, and with the little dtv converter box, the picture/sound quality truly sucks. so i gotta pony up $40 a month to watch the office?

  17. TreyWaters says:

    My only problem with the whole transition is the fact that analog-only sets were still available for purchase AFTER the FCC put in a date to halt analog broadcasts.

    I can’t think of a good reason that TVs sold after (what, 1998?) weren’t required to at least have a digital tuner.

  18. TCameron says:

    I’m pretty sure Charlie’s grandparents from Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory were the only ones to still have OTA telly signal.

  19. darkstarX says:

    @PDX909: I agree, they should have just bought the actual boxes for people, why make a bunch of consumer electronic stores act as the middlemen? I live in a small city, and the stores I went to did not have any converter boxes in stock so I had to mail order one and wait about a month.

  20. darkstarX says:

    @zenhead: Really? I have both cable and OTA in my house, and the local channels look better OTA with the digital converter than they do on Comcast. Also, there is now schedule information and show descriptions for OTA shows, which is pretty sweet.

  21. EBounding says:

    @zenhead: Where I live the DTV signal comes in great (the stations are less than 10 miles away). What’s good about digital is you don’t have to have a 100% signal to get a good picture. And the picture quality is actually better than cable since it’s uncompressed. I don’t watch TV much, but when I do, it’s only the broadcast networks anyway.

    DTV is the the reason I dumped cable altogether, so I’m saving a lot of money now.

  22. Bahnburner says:

    Maybe off topic, but where does the government get off spending millions of taxpayer dollars to protect the “right to television?”

  23. whatifhesgotapointedstick says:

    OK, maybe its overkill. I know I see a ton of these commercials every day. But, do any of them actually SAY anything? Do they give you any information whatsoever? It’s all “visit our website” or “call our number”…

    Now, I’ll be the first to admit, I know nothing about the transition, but you can’t tell me the FCC couldn’t make a :60 (or even a :30) spot that would actually TELL me whether or not my TV was ready for the switch. Am I so off-base? Does this seem ridiculous to anyone else?

  24. The_Legend says:

    Yep, that was a great move by the FCC to sit on their asses until just a couple of years until the shift. If they would have required the digital tuners years ago (like in 1998) most of the televisions would have already been prepared. Once again, thank you FCC!

  25. graphicwave says:

    The broadcast digital TV sucks balls most of the time. I don’t have cable, broadcast is all I can watch since I’m not rich. I sure do love it when at the end of a show you are really in to and at the end the signal goes all pixelated and the sound drops. What did they say? I’ll never know. The audio is the first thing you lose. They better find a way to beef up all of their signals or you are going to have a shitstorm of complaints before the first week is over.

  26. ELC says:

    As I am sure it has been stated – this is retarded. How many millions of dollars is the FTC going to waste on this??? Not only national ads, but our local TV stations do this. Where are these places: “in which more than 100,000 households, or at least 15 percent of the households, rely solely on over-the-air signals for television.”???

    I am one of those people that “rely” on over-the-air, but only b/c I don’t want to pay for TV, of which 99% is crap and I can do a lot more important things with my time. If Joe Schmo gets up one day and his TV doesn’t come in, he’s going to go to a store or ask his neighbor and figure out what happened.

    this is retarded – more coverage for this than the Y2K nonsense! I am in awe of the overwhelming stupidity of the entire thing.

  27. ELC says:

    I meant FCC – not FTC. :)

  28. ELC says:

    @PDX909: i’m sorry, but you are just crazy. they can’t make it anymore simple than what the ads say:

    1. On this date, your antenna – based TV will cease to function.
    2. here’s why.
    3. here’s what you can do

    How many times do you have to say that before you call somebody dumb? I am amazed that people seem to think that when you cross a certain age and become a senior citizen that your brain leaked out of your head.

    Also, you can’t blame the FCC or any part of the govt when retailers try to make money of off this in shady ways.

  29. PDX909 says:


    If someone doesn’t understand something, it doesn’t matter how many times you tell them the same thing.. they still won’t get it, but in fact will become more confused and less receptive to learning. That’s certainly true of seniors that are ‘wary’ or ‘afraid’ of technology and non English speaking people that are non part of the target demographic.

    Yes, I agree that for the most part the instructions are straightforward and equipment setup is pretty easy, but that’s my perspective, I deal with new technology all the time.

    The fact that you don’t acknowledge that there will be some people that find this transition difficult is not a failing on their part, but on yours.

  30. TVGenius says:

    @thelushie: You’re not who they’re worried about. Call the three oldest relatives you have and ask them what they know. Call a cousin; see what they know. That’s why they’re doing all this, because a lot of people, believe it or not, DON’T read Giz and don’t keep up on technology.

  31. Meathamper says:

    They’re pretending to look cool? With a college road trip?

  32. mrearly2 says:

    So, some folks might end up watching snow? No big loss, I’m sure. There’s very little of value on TV, anyway.