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The DTV Transition. Jane Mago National Association of Broadcasters Senior Vice President and General Counsel Law & Regulatory Policy. What is NAB?. The National Association of Broadcasters 150 people at 1771 N St. NW in Washington DC

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The dtv transition l.jpg

The DTV Transition

Jane Mago

National Association of Broadcasters

Senior Vice President and General Counsel

Law & Regulatory Policy

What is nab l.jpg
What is NAB?

  • The National Association of Broadcasters

    • 150 people at 1771 N St. NW in Washington DC

  • NAB is a full-service trade association which represents the interests of free, over-the-air radio and television broadcasters.

    • 7043 Radio Station Members

    • 1127 Television Station Members

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The DTV Transition is Complex

  • The process began in 1987

  • Many stakeholders in the transition

  • DTV transition is now accelerating at a rapid pace

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Advantages of DTV

  • More efficient use of spectrum

  • Better quality signal, including cinema-like “high definition” or HDTV programming

  • Allows for multicasting

  • Will free up spectrum for other uses, including public safety and wireless broadband

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Old DTV Transition “Soft” Date

  • The Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA) established a soft guideline for the DTV transition:

    • December 31, 2006 or later if 85% in market have yet to receive digital signal

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New DTV Hard Date

  • DTV Television Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005 (part of Deficit Reduction Act) signed into law by the President

    • Sets hard deadline for cessation of analog broadcasts at February 18, 2009

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Now that the Hard Date is Set …


How do we finish going from:

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Digital Buildout

  • 1550 Stations

  • 211 markets

  • Reaching 99.9% American Population

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Ch. 2 - 69

Ch. 2 - 51 (All DTV)

108 MHz




Television Spectrum Plan

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Channel Election

  • After the transition, all digital television stations will be relocated to the “core spectrum” consisting of current television channels 2 through 51 (54-698MHz)

  • FCC has adopted a seven-step channel election and repacking process to help orchestrate the reallocation

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Channels 52-69

Broadcast Spectrum Shrinks by 108 MHz





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Many unresolved issues

  • 73 Million remaining analog televisions, representing 22 million households

  • Multicasting

  • Downconversion of broadcasters’ signal

  • Unlicensed devices in the broadcast spectrum

On february 18 2009 73 million analog televisions will go dark l.jpg

Our Deepest Concern:

On February 18, 2009, 73 million analog televisions will go dark

Our viewers,

Congress’ constituents

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Education Campaign

  • Millions of Americans know little or nothing about the DTV transition

  • NAB is committed to educate the public about the DTV transition

  • Broadcasters will be working together on a nationwide campaign

  • Doing their part

  • It takes all stakeholders

  • NTIA given $5 million for consumer education and program administration costs

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Converter Box Subsidy

  • NTIA will implement program whereby households may obtain coupons that can be applied toward the purchase of digital-to-analog converter boxes

    • Coupon value of $40

    • Limit of two coupons per household

    • Coupons given on first-come-first-served basis

    • Households to make coupon requests between January 1, 2008 and March 31, 2009 for delivery via USPS.

    • Coupons expire after 3 months

    • Maximum $1.5 billion for coupon program

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Remaining Issues:

  • Multicasting

    • With digital, broadcasters will provide more channels, more local content

    • Issue likely to be revisited by the FCC

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  • Broadcasters have spent billions of dollars converting to digital

  • Some cable operators want to downconvert at the head-end for analog customers

  • This would degrade broadcaster signal for every cable subscriber – even those with a DTV set will receive an inferior signal

  • Why were broadcasters required to offer a digital signal if millions of viewers cannot see it?

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Unlicensed Devices

  • Current FCC filing

  • Very concerned about interference

  • Digital signal strength/reception issues still murky

  • At the minimum:

    • We should wait until after the DTV transition is complete in February 2009

    • We need real world testing

  • Proposed Telecom Bill from Sen. Stevens would require FCC to complete rulemaking within 270 days with rules that allow unlicensed devices to operate in the broadcast television frequencies