Broadcast Television Station Reminder: FCC Form 388 DTV Consumer Education Activity Reports Due July 10
By July 10, 2009, certain full-power television stations must electronically file a Form 388 DTV Quarterly Activity Station Report with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Specifically, every television station that did not complete construction and commence operation of their full authorized post-transition DTV facility by March 31, 2009 (i.e., the end of the first quarter), must file an updated DTV Quarterly Activity Report by July 10 detailing the station's efforts to educate viewers about the DTV transition during the second quarter of 2009.
Consistent with the FCC's DTV consumer education rules, which were revised and expanded effective April 1, 2009, broadcast stations were required to provide viewers with information about the DTV transition by airing public service announcements (PSAs), crawls, tickers, and longer-format programs. The Form 388 DTV Quarterly Activity Station Report summarizes both the mandatory and voluntary consumer education activities undertaken by the station in the second quarter of 2009, from April 1, 2009, through June 30, 2009, or such earlier date if the station completed the transition during the second quarter, as discussed in this advisory.
Earlier this year, the Commission revised its rules to permit stations to cease airing DTV consumer education information once they had completed the transition to digital television and commenced operations with their full authorized post-transition digital facilities. For the majority of stations this transition occurred on June 12, 2009. In such cases, the Report prepared and filed by July 10 will cover April 1, 2009, through June 12, 2009.
As of April 1, the FCC’s DTV consumer education requirements were revised to include a number of new requirements. Specifically, the Commission required that stations provide information about loss areas, about the use of antennas and the types of antennas that viewers may need, about the need to “rescan” channel lineups, and about the need to publicize phone numbers and help centers. The FCC Form 388 DTV Consumer Education Activity Report has now been updated to include questions about these new requirements, and stations are urged to review the Report carefully. Older versions of the Form 388 will not be accepted, and stations must use the June 2009 version of the form.
Please note: After filing the Report with the FCC, stations must post the completed Form 388 on their Web sites, if they have a Web site, and place a copy in the station’s public inspection file. The Report must be available for at least one year after filing with the Commission.
As mentioned above, the FCC eliminated the requirement for most stations to continue broadcasting DTV consumer education information after they have terminated analog service and are operating only in digital, so long as the station has completed construction of its full, authorized post-transition digital facilities and is operating exclusively in digital on its final DTV channel. Stations that are operating pursuant to a “phased-in” Special Temporary Authority or otherwise have not yet commenced operation with their full final digital facilities must continue to comply with the Commission’s DTV consumer education requirements.
As in previous quarters, the Report must be filed electronically using the FCC's Consolidated Database System (CDBS). The use of CDBS will also allow the Reports to be available to the public and the Commission. For more information on filing via CDBS, please visit the FCC's Web site.
The FCC has been taking the DTV consumer education obligation very seriously, and stations should be careful to comply with the requirements and to file their Form 388 on time. For more information about the FCC's revised DTV consumer education rules, or for assistance in preparing and filing your Form 388, please contact any of the lawyers in the Davis Wright Tremaine Broadcast Group.