The FCC took some heat from consumer groups for its handling of the DTV transition at the agency’s 1st DTV consumer education workshop Wed. “It’s unfortunate the FCC has not demonstrated effective leadership so far,” said Susan Grant, vp, public policy for the National Consumers League. She complained that the FCC is not leading a major, multichannel DTV public awareness campaign and instead leaving that effort to members of the industry. Similarly, Consumer Action’s Linda Sherry said FCC oversight and regulation of PSAs and education is “most important.” Perennial cable basher Mark Cooper of Consumer Federation of America railed against cable’s “awful and disgusting” DTV transition PSAs. “The cable industry is feeding on consumer ignorance with their ads, suggesting they need to get cable in order to” have an easy transition, Cooper said. He was alone in voicing criticism for the $200mln campaign NCTA launched earlier this month, with FCC chmn Kevin Martin commending the industries for their recent consumer education efforts. Last week, NAB began rolling out its own PSAs (see them at http://www.dtvanswers.com/30secspot). FCC commish Jonathan Adelstein reiterated his call for a coordinated message between the FCC and NTIA. Fellow Dem Michael Copps pooh-poohed the notion that the transition is now on track to be as smooth as Y2K. “I know what it looks like when something is a national priority,” he said, referring to his involvement in Y2K planning. “Right now, we’re not on the road to a non-event. We may be on the road to a cold winter blizzard of American consumers.” Like the consumer advocates, Copps said someone needs to coordinate and oversee education efforts. Absent a task force, like there was for Y2K, “the FCC seems to be the entity best in the position to get the job done,” he said. Martin pledged Wed’s workshop would be the 1st of a series of forums on the digital transition.

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