The FCC is seeking comment (PDF) on potential digital TV transition consumer education initiatives, the commission announced today. The FCC wants input on proposals designed to “convey the timing, logistics and benefits of the DTV transition to consumers,” including PSAs, notices on consumer electronics equipment and in cable and satellite bills, employee training by consumer electronics retailers and tweaks to the DTV.gov partners program. Lawmakers last week complained about the government’s meager efforts to educate the largely clueless public about the Feb. 17, 2009 switch-off of analog TV. APTS, which has been working to secure some of the relatively paltry $5 million the government set aside for DTV education, endorsed a bill earlier this month that would boost such funding to $20 million.
At a hearing yesterday, Senators lamented the government’s puny efforts to educate people about the digital TV transition, reports the Los Angeles Times. Speaking to Federal Communications Commission and Commerce Department officials, lawmakers said more funding was needed for government-sponsored public education, in part because the television industry was not doing enough. The anxiety is fueled by a Association of Public Television Stations survey that indicated 61% of respondents had no idea a digital switch was coming (Current, Feb. 12, 2007).”I think there’s high potential for a train wreck here,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) imagined what would happen if TV screens went blank on Feb. 18, 2009: “They’re not going to call you,” she told FCC officials.
“I think PBS has enormous potential to become an engine of change in the new world of democratized video,” writes TV producer Michael Rosenblum, who spoke at last weekend’s National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA) board planning conference in New York [Via Technology360]. In his blog post following the speech, Rosenblum says, “Perhaps [PBS] is better positioned than anyone else to effect this change – this need for publishing instead of producing.” Rosenblum’s advice to pubcasters? “Become a node for video literacy. A place where people could come for training, have their work reviewed, edited and if good enough, published.
The Washington Post reports on why the proposed merger of two “bit players in the media world”–satellite radio companies XM and Sirius–has stoked such a huge lobbying battle in Washington. The National Association of Broadcasters has mounted an aggressive public relations and lobbying campaign, while NPR quietly petitioned the FCC on July 9 to block the merger. Granting one company a monopoly on digital satellite radio would “substantially harm the diversity of voices” heard on the media platform, NPR lawyers wrote in the petition, because the merged companies would pare their channel line-ups and very likely drop some public radio programming. “A monopoly . .
Bill Moyers responded to PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler’s July 20th column, which criticized Moyer’s program about impeachment for lacking balance, by writing “The journalist’s job is not to achieve some mythical state of equilibrium between two opposing opinions out of some misshapen respect — sometimes, alas, reverence — for the prevailing consensus among the powers-that-be. The journalist’s job is to seek out and offer the public the best thinking on an issue, event, or story. That’s what I did regarding the argument for impeachment.” The statement was part of a letter distributed to media who covered Getler’s critique, including Romenesko and the right-wing NewsBusters. Getler had written that “there was almost a complete absence of balance, as I watched it, in the way this program presented the case for impeachment proceedings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney.”
The effectiveness of social media tools is hard to measure and such efforts don’t yet produce obvious financial rewards, but many pubradio stations are building new audience relationships with blogs, wikis, discussion boards and other participative online bells and whistles, according to a just-released study. The paper, titled “Public Radio’s Social Media Experiments: Risk, Opportunity, Challenge,” is sponsored by the Center for Social Media at Washington’s American University and the Public Radio Exchange. It represents one of the first efforts to track how and to what extent stations are incorporating social media tools into their websites. The resulting report isn’t meant to be a comprehensive picture of the system–its designers intentionally reached out to tech-savvy stations, said Jake Shapiro, PRX executive director. “It should be helpful to stations contemplating jumping further into social media experimentation,” he told Current.
The Association of Public Television Stations reports that “older Americans are significantly more likely to receive their television signals over-the-air, and are therefore less prepared than the rest of the U.S. population to transition from analog to digital-only television in 20 months.” The findings are from a new APTS study based on more than 10,000 phone calls earlier this year. The study also found that that only 17 percent of over-the-air viewers age 65 and older owned a digital TV.
Public TV’s lobbying group signed on to the Open Mobile Video Coalition, a consortium of broadcast station groups working to establish a mobile DTV standard, Broadcasting & Cable reports. MPH (Mobile-Pedestrian-Handheld), by Harris/LG, and Advanced-VSB, from Samsung/Rohde & Schwarz, are technologies competing to become the mobile DTV standard, which would allow broadcasters to use their DTV spectrum to beam content to mobile and handheld devices.