DBS Resisting DTV Transition PSAs

DIRECTV and DISH Network are resisting proposals that would require pay-TV services to deliver on-air PSAs that aim to educate customers about next year's switch to digital TV.

In comments filed at the Federal Communications Commission this week, both companies said they already communicate with subscribers about the coming DTV transition through mailed brochures and other pieces distributed on a monthly basis. Also, DIRECTV and DISH pointed out that pay video services already pass through DTV transition PSAs carried by broadcasters.

In addition, the companies said video providers are subject to numerous contractual arrangements "that severely limit their editorial discretion and their ability" to slot PSAs into programming. And they added that some voluntary airing of PSAs focused on the digital TV transition have been aired by pay-TV platforms.

"The public interest would be better served by allowing each MVPD (multichannel video program distributor) to tailor the content and delivery of its DTV education message according to the particular needs, interests and characteristics of its customers, thereby maximizing consumer education and reducing consumer confusion," DISH and DIRECTV said in their comments.

The companies added that there is no reason to believe an on-air DTV education requirement imposed on pay-TV services is needed or could be effectively instituted with only months to go before the transition. "In fact, any additional regulations may preclude or delay voluntary efforts of MVPDs that are more tailored to reach affected consumers," stated the comments.