FCC Revises Requirements for Cable Operator Billing Statement DTV Education Notices
On Feb. 20, 2009, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a Second Report and Order ("Order") implementing multiple provisions of the DTV Delay Act. The Act changed the date when broadcast television stations must cease analog transmission and begin digital TV (DTV) transmission from Feb. 17, 2009, to June 12, 2009 (although some TV stations have already converted to digital-only operations).
Importantly for cable operators, the FCC's Order revises the DTV Education Notice that must be provided in cable bills to all subscribers to account for the delay in the transition deadline. The FCC's revisions to the DTV Education Notice extend beyond a mere change in dates, and also provide new contact information and a longer explanation regarding the nation's new, staggered DTV transition. This new billing information should be provided as soon as possible, but must be provided no later than April 1, 2009, and must continue through June 30, 2009.
The FCC's new DTV Education Notice is set forth below. The changes required under the new Order are shown in italics (the non-italics portions of the text are still required):
- The nationwide switch to digital television broadcasting will be complete on June 12, 2009, but your local television stations may switch sooner. After the switch, analog only television sets that receive TV programming through an antenna will need a converter box to continue to receive over-the-air TV. Watch your local stations to find out when they will turn off their analog signal and switch to digital-only broadcasting. Analog-only TVs should continue to work as before to receive low power, Class A or translator television stations and with cable and satellite TV services, gaming consoles, VCRs, DVD players, and similar products.
- Information about the DTV transition is available from your local television stations, www.DTV.gov,
1-888-CALL-FCC (TTY 1-888-TELL-FCC), or this MVPD at [telephone number and Web site if available], and from www.dtv2009.gov or 1-888-DTV-2009 (TTY 1-877-530-2634) for information about subsidized coupons for digital-to-analog converter boxes.
In addition, cable operator DTV Education Notices must continue to "explain clearly what effect, if any, the DTV transition will have on the subscriber's access to MVPD service," and must note that analog sets not connected to cable service may need additional equipment such as a digital-to-analog converter box or may have to be replaced. This obligation could be satisfied with language such as the following:
- Analog TVs not connected to cable may need additional equipment such as a digital-to-analog converter box or replacement. TVs connected to cable service will not be effected by the digital transition.
The FCC points out that this language is intended as a guideline to provide cable operators with a means of identifying the information that must be provided on bills; however, the exact text need not be used word for word. With that said, the FCC last year expressed serious concern regarding any deficiencies in the language or distribution of the DTV Education Notice.
If you have any questions about these revised and extended monthly notification requirements, or need assistance in preparing the notifications, please contact us.