With the big switch from analog to all-digital TV just six months away, the FCC has identified 80 TV markets that will get a little extra attention and outreach from the commission prior to the transition. During a press conference today, FCC chairman Kevin Martin said all markets in which more than 100,000 households or at least 15 percent of households rely solely on over-the-air transmission will get a visit from the FCC.
Markets on the list include San Francisco, Denver and New York City (see the full list here (PDF)). During the cross-country tour, FCC folk will hold town halls, workshops or roundtable discussions and press outreach to talk about the upcoming digital TV switch. Martin didn’t talk about the cost of the outreach program, but did note that it was possible thanks to a $12 million in education funding recently given by Congress.
On February 17, 2009, TV stations across the country will shut off their analog broadcasting and switch to digital. Televisions not equipped with a digital tuner won’t be able to receive signals (no TV!). In May, a Nielsen study showed that 9.4 million households or about 10 million people were completely unready for the switch. An early testbed for the digital switch will happen in Wilmington, N.C., on September 8.