In Depth

FCC Goes NASCAR Racing to Publicize DTV

The Federal Communications Commission will take the unusual step of sponsoring a NASCAR entry as part of its digital TV outreach.

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin announced today that the agency will sponsor the No. 38 car of driver David Gilliland for three Sprint Cup races. The NASCAR sponsorship will cost the FCC $350,000, which an FCC spokesman said represents a $100,000 government discount.

The car will have an "Is your TV ready for digital" logo on the front and back and a yellow diagonal banner saying "digital TV transition," and the three tracks will have DTV banners.
The FCC will also use some of the $20 million appropriated by Congress for DTV outreach to run ads in the AARP magazine. The ads will include applications for converter boxes.

The NASCAR sponsorship could draw congressional criticism, but Mr. Martin said it makes sense.

“NASCAR fans are known for their avid interest in this sport. Their awareness and responsiveness to NASCAR sponsors is also exceptionally high. I believe this sponsorship is an extremely effective way for the FCC to raise DTV awareness among people of all ages and income levels across the United States who loyally follow one of the most popular sports in America,” he said.

(Editor: Liff; updated 4:45 p.m. to add cost of sponsorship and other details)