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Rehr Says NAB Was Ready For DTV Rebrand

National Association of Broadcasters President David Rehr said Friday that NAB's DTV transition team anticipated the hard date change when Congress started talking about it and was ready to start reeducating viewers and rebranding the date once Congress moved it to June 12.

"The bad news was 97% of America knew about the DTV transition, most of them knew the Feb. 17 date," he said."The good is I think we were able to transition quickly in those markets where it has now been moved to June 12. We're going to do the best we can to make sure they are aware of the message"

He said the goal was to overcommunicate, rather than have someone not know their TV isn't working.

That came in an interview Friday for C-SPAN's Communicators series, the same day the FCC came out with new guidelines for that June 12 transition date.

The FCC is requiring TV stations which won't be covering at least 2% of their former analog audience to inform their viewers of that fact  (DTV coverage areas differ slightly from analog). Rehr said that stations are already communicating to their viewers on the "peripheral parts of their coverage area" where this could be and what action to take. "They are trying to do the best job they can communicating a potential loss of service without causing greater confusion for people who are in their core market area."

He said the message needs to be targetted to the areas where it will be a problem.

Something Rehr thinks that one thing that can't be targetted to prevent a problem is unlicensed devices sharing the TV spectrum, which the FCC has approved subject to certain conditions. "There technology remains unproven... We are still in the theoretically range." He said the consequence for viewers is that it will "knock out people's digital television" if the device is not 100% effective. NAB has sued the FCC over that so-clled "white spaces" decision.

Rehr sid that the FCC's testing of the device was essentially "if the antenna is 12 feet high and it is looking to the left and we're holding it seven feet away, it just might work. Well, that is not good enough technology."

Rehr gave a shout-out to Julius Genachowksi, President Obama's pick for FCC chairman. He called him an energetic, bright, really smart person. He said he thought he would do a great job and called on the Senate to "aggressively and quickly supports him and gets him to the FCC." As of press time, the White House had yet to send that nomination to the Senate.