Broadcasting groups are rejecting suggestions that the Federal Communications Commission require broadcasters to promote the digital transition with a specific number of public service ads or messages.
In comments filed today with the FCC, the National Association of Broadcasters and the Association for Maximum Service Television said broadcasters are already voluntarily committing to major education efforts. The filing suggests the FCC should concentrate on tracking the effectiveness of various industry and government education efforts, assessing any need to reach out to any groups or populations that haven’t been adequately served.
The groups said that imposing specific time or message requirements on broadcasters would hurt rather than help an education effort that needs maximum flexibility to “ensure that all on-air messaging can be adjusted” depending on needs.
The FCC asked for the comments after several congressmen called on FCC chairman Kevin Martin to do more. The congressmen, among them House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell, D-Mich, and Ed Markey, D-Mass, chairman of the panel’s telecom committee, suggested with just 18 months before the Feb. 2009 transition, consumers don’t yet know enough about it and questioned whether the FCC should mandate specific requirements that a certain number of messages air during each broadcast day.
The groups today responded that a mandate isn’t needed because broadcasters’ voluntary efforts will be extensive and need flexibility. They said the industry effort will roll out like a political campaign, with an initial effort to introduce the transition followed by a big effort to promote it.
“No avenue to reach consumers will be left unexplored,” the groups said. “Broadcasters have embarked on an extensive education and marketing project to ensure that we reach all demographics, all geographic areas, urban and rural communities, the young and the old.”
The groups also questioned the legal authority for the FCC to mandate messages.
The National Cable and Telecommunications Association also urged the FCC to reject any requirements on cable, saying the industry’s launch of an educational effort since the congressmen’s letter to Mr. Martin had demonstrated the industry was already acting voluntarily.