WXXI Awarded Digital Television Contract

Mon, 01/12/2009 - 9:00am
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has selected WXXI Public Broadcasting as one of 12 agencies across the country to assist the FCC with its DTV consumer education program. The FCC awarded WXXI a $202,498 contract to implement an outreach initiative to help over-the-air viewers in the Greater Rochester area prepare for the digital transition.

As one of only five public broadcasting stations selected by the FCC, WXXI was recognized for its ongoing commitment to helping Rochesterians prepare for the February 17th analog shut off. WXXI has been engaged in a program to build community awareness and understanding about the digital transition for the past year. With the FCC contract WXXI will build on the work it has already done, and dedicate more effort in reaching those who need help the most – seniors, citizens in rural areas, disabled citizens, and minority communities.

“We were pleased to be selected by the FCC to help our community make the transition to digital broadcasting,” said WXXI President Norm Silverstein. “We look forward to working with our colleagues at the Rochester commercial television stations to preserve and enhance access to free, over-the-air television in the digital era.”

The FCC contract will support WXXI's following efforts:

A toll-free telephone help center, staffed by trained technicians and personnel, is being created. Consumers will be able to call this number to have their DTV questions answered. It will be open through the end of March 2009.

A “street team” of installers to provide in-home assistance to those, identified by WXXI, as needing more assistance than through a phone call. WXXI will partner with other local agencies to coordinate this team and its efforts.

Educational, community-based events throughout Rochester. WXXI engineers and technology reporters will host these DTV information seminars. They will help participants identify what they need to do to be prepared, demonstrate installation of converter boxes and answer questions.

A special DTV edition of 1370 Connection. AM 1370’s Rachel Ward and AM 1370’s technology reporter Scott Fybush will host a special DTV 1370 Connection and will open phone lines on Thursday, January 22 at 12 p.m. on AM 1370 to take DTV calls.

A live, call-in TV show to educate viewers about the DTV conversion. DTV 101: Get the Picture on the Digital Transition will air Thursday, January 22 at 9 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (DT21.1/cable 1011). WXXI will open its phone lines for calls, and experts will be in studio to answer callers’ questions. DVD copies of the program, including a version translated into Spanish, will be distributed to key organizations in targeted communities with high over-the-air audiences.

The creation of a DTV educational piece that will be distributed to community centers, social service agencies, and libraries.
The FCC sought proposals to conduct outreach in all parts of the country, with a specific focus on the 82 markets with the highest over-the-air television populations. In particular, the FCC selected organizations dedicated to serving across the country populations most at risk in the digital transition including senior citizens, people with disabilities and Spanish-speaking households. The FCC sought the assistance of local, regional and national organizations with converter box procurement and installation, establishment and staffing of local call centers, educating consumers about the transition and other local grassroots efforts.

As part of the Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 2009, Congress appropriated $20 million to the FCC to help fund its digital television outreach efforts. On September 15, the FCC initiated a broad public request for proposals to conduct community-based grassroots outreach work for the digital television transition.

Other FCC contract recipients are AARP, Communications Service for the Deaf (CSD), Hispanic Information and Telecommunications Network (HITN), PinTech Corporation, VN Team Work, Inc. Iowa Public Broadcasting, Idaho Public Broadcasting, and Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on Technology.