by Mike Masnick
Thu, Dec 20th 2007 12:07am
Last week, we noted that the GAO was concerned that the FCC didn't have plans in place to educate consumers about the switch from analog TV to digital TV, set to take place in February of 2009. Kevin Martin and the FCC shot back that the GAO was incorrect, and it has an education campaign well planned out. It would appear that's true, but that campaign is already raising some controversy. Reader MaxB312 writes in to point us to a Public Service Announcement that Martin himself filmed for Dish Network:
As the summary of the video makes clear, some people are interpreting this commercial to be a sly way of suggesting that those who have analog TV should just sign up for Dish rather than getting a converter. Martin makes it clear that Dish Network subscribers have nothing to worry about, since this only impacts free over-the-air (FOTA) TV, and then says "but if your TV has rabbit ears or a rooftop antenna, you'll need a satellite box or a converter box." The problem is that you really only "need" a converter box -- not satellite. A satellite box would get you entirely beyond the issue of FOTA TV. Of course, so would a cable service -- which Martin doesn't mention at all. No wonder, since he apparently has it in for cable companies. While I don't necessarily buy the conspiracy theory that this is an attempt to help out satellite providers, it does raise an important question: why is the FCC advertising this to people for whom it won't matter? Why would the FCC put PSAs on either satellite or cable TV offerings when the switch doesn't impact those people at all? Perhaps the GAO's real complaint wasn't that the FCC didn't have a plan on how to educate people -- but that the plan consisted of educating the wrong group of people. Update: Well that answers that. As a bunch of folks noted in the comments, it's mainly targeted at rural areas where the broadcast OTA stations aren't all available via Dish.
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