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NAB To Launch DTV PSA's Before End of Year

The National Association of Broadcasters  will launch its DTV transition PSA campaign before the end of the year, and that it will be multiple languages and cost in the multiple millions of dollars.

The announcement came from  NAB VP Jonathan Collegio, who heads NAB's

DTV transition team


NAB talked of not starting the campaign until 2008,and pointed to a relative dearth of federal money for an education campaign: the FCC got $1.5 million, the National Telecommunications & Information Association $5 million.

Collegio said the PSA's would be delivered in English and Spanish, and  post-produced in Russian, Vietnamese, and Mandarin.

Collegio, briefing a handful of congressional staffers and reporters at a Capitol Hill panel session on the transition, said that NAB had created a speakers bureau and expected at least two staffers from each TV station would be made available to speak about the transition to community groups. The NAB will book the speeches. 

At the same briefing, a representative from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration said NTIA planned by August to have picked the outside vendor who will help administer the government's converter-box subsidy program.

Congress has set aside $1.5 billion to provide up to two, $40-coupons per household toward the boxes (which will likely cost about $60) which convert DTV signals to analog. Houses with analog-only sets not hooked up to cable or satellite will need the converters when plug is pulled on analog broadcasting in February 2009.

NTIA was only given $5 million for the campaign.  

Dr. Francine Jefferson, consumer education manager,  said she didn't have the luxury to opine over the amount, but was focused on leveraging what Congress had given them to contact as many in the target populations as possible. She planned to focus on the the elderly,  the poor, the minorities, and those with special needs.

She said NTIA was not waiting until January 2008--the time when Congress said it must be ready to start processing applications for the boxes-- but has been working with other agencies like the IRS, Department of Agriculture, Library associations, and faith-based groups to start getting the word out.

They are even trying some viral marketing via,  a nonprofit that helps senior citizens become more computer savvy, including through some 200 learning centers throughout the country.

House Democrats have been pushing the FCC and broadcasters to get the PSA/education campaign in gear due to a concern  they could face consumer  backlash if viewers don't have sufficient warnings about the switchover and enough information to navigate the converter-box subsidy program.