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House Democrats Outline DTV Actions for FCC

In the wake of a House hearing last week on the digital-TV transition, top Democrats have a list of actions they want the Federal Communications Commission to take, including focusing education efforts on antennas and encouraging viewers to buy, install and test their DTV converter boxes as soon as possible.

They also asked other DTV stakeholders to update their DTV-education efforts to include the fact that antennas may need to be added or adjusted to get a digital picture.

Most of the recommendations were similar to those the FCC and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration said they needed to take after issues of antenna adjustment and converter-box operations drew the most viewer calls after the Wilmington, N.C., analog plug-pull Sept. 8.

The National Association of Broadcasters also said it released new TV spots Thursday "highlighting the importance of antennas in maximizing free [as in over-the-air] DTV reception."

In a letter to FCC chairman Kevin Martin Thursday, House Energy & Commerce Committee chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) and Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said they and 10 other House members were asking the FCC to:

• "1. Establish a public/private/nonprofit-sector information campaign that focuses on the need for new antennas or adjustments to existing antennas to receive digital-TV broadcast signals;

• 2. Encourage Americans to act now to buy and install a DTV converter box, test the reception and then take action to resolve any problems as soon as possible;

• 3. Update information on the FCC’s Web site and other related government DTV Web sites to include in an obvious, accessible location a clear explanation of antenna matters; and

• 4. Expand the FCC’s call center, especially in the weeks immediately preceding the transition, to address questions concerning antenna matters."