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FCC Calls Soft Test a Wake-Up Call

The FCC issued a release Tuesday promoting the May 21 analog cut-off soft test.

Commmission spokesman Rick Kaplan did not have a total for the stations participating, and the FCC is expecting wide participation. Most markets that are not yet all-digital have indicated they will participate in the test, says NAB.

The FCC did not mandate the test, but made it clear it was encouraging stations to participate.

“The soft test is a wake-up call to consumers telling them that the time to get ready for the DTV transition is now,” said Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps in the announcement. “We don’t want anyone to be left without the news, information and entertainment they need and enjoy."

The release included a DTV Media Toolkit to help media outlets get the word out about the transition. Copps has complained that the national media have undercovered the story.

Participating stations are planning to simulate pulling the plug on analog for 2-5 minutes three times on May 12, during what for many stations will be morning, noon, and evening news time periods. The FCC is preparing its DTV call center to handle calls from viewers.

The tests have the dual purpose of alerting viewers to any problems they have and giving the government and industry another dry run before the June 12 analog cut-off, when more than 900 TV stations serving the majority of TV markets will be pulling the plug on analog.