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FCC Calls Amateur Radio Service for Assistance with Digital TV Conversion:

from The ARRL Letter, Vol 27, No 49 on December 12, 2008
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FCC Calls On Amateur Radio Service for Assistance with Digital TV Conversion:

Earlier this month, the ARRL received a request from the FCC asking that ARRL members provide technical educational assistance to their communities concerning the FCC-mandated digital television (DTV) conversion scheduled for February 17, 2009

According to ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, Amateur Radio clubs across the country are being asked to develop and implement plans to provide information throughout January and February about the DTV conversion in their areas. The FCC is leaving it up to the clubs to decide how to do this, as local groups understand the communities in ways that the FCC does not. Each community is a little different, Pitts said, so plans carried out by the clubs will vary from community to community. Interested groups should contact their ARRL Section Manager.

Pitts stressed that hams should not make "house calls," sell any equipment or do actual installations; the request is only to distribute technical information and FCC materials. He commented: "As we all know, some folks just never get the message until too late. Materials for presentations, education and many other activities are available online Beginning early January, FCC staff will contact Section Managers and leaders of interested clubs and, where possible, arrange to meet to share even more information, audio, visual and printed materials, as well as training aids, with the clubs involved this effort. We know the time is short, but your aid in this now will be appreciated."

In early January, Pitts said that the FCC will ask Section Managers for the names and contact information of the volunteering groups. The FCC staff will then make contact with the groups, learn their plans and provide them with the media, brochures or other materials groups may need in this effort. FCC regional staff members may even come and visit with larger groups to aid in implementation of the group's plans.

"I really appreciate the willingness of the ARRL to actively participate in helping Americans with the transition to DTV and your helpful suggestions," said George Dillon, FCC Deputy Bureau Chief for Field Operations. "The DTV transition will be an historic moment in the evolution of TV. Broadcast television stations can offer viewers improved picture and sound quality and new programming choices. All-digital broadcasting also will allow us to significantly improve public safety communications and will usher in a new era of advanced wireless services such as the widespread deployment of wireless broadband. Our goal is to engage the amateur community on a cooperative basis to help with the DTV outreach and to educate consumers."

Dillon continued that local Amateur Radio clubs might consider offering technical advice to consumers via telephone to those consumers who may encounter difficulty with the installation and setting up of their converter box. "Any assistance...will greatly help in the efforts of the FCC to ensure a smooth transition to DTV on February 17, 2009."

Pitts advises interested groups to keep in mind that they are to provide technical educational help only: "At no time should the hams enter someone else's home or install equipment. They should not broker or sell conversion boxes in any way. Clubs can provide such things as a call-in telephone number for technical help, make presentations at meetings, do demonstrations at malls or give talks to other groups -- whatever works in their community."


The ARRL Letter Vol. 27, No. 49 December 12, 2008

Member Comments:
This article has expired. No more comments may be added.
Among the non-technically inclined folks  
by AI2IA on December 13, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Unfortunately, these good intentions have a dark side. Once hams attempt to help neighbors and strangers with the television conversion, these folks quickly associate ham radio with television interference. Thereafter any problems with their television reception get blamed on ham radio.

On the few occasions when I offered help to non-hams in regard to their television sets, I have gotten small comments and some joking about ham radio and TV interference, and in one instance I got a "friendly" lecture on why amateur radio really should not be allowed anymore since it is no longer needed in these times and only causes interference while making the neighborhood ugly.

I have learned not to bring up the subject of amateur radio to anyone unless they first express an interest in that general direction. Word association seems to be "up - down, right - left, big - small, ham radio - TV interference."
FCC, DTV and ham assistance with conversions  
by K5UJ on December 13, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I doubt if the subject of interference will come up--my experience has been that people who need help are so glad to have technically knowledgeable assistance that they don't even think of TVI, but if they do, so what--we don't have to react to every single thing we hear. Remember: Act; don't react.

My worry is with the senior citizen population, in particular elderly men and women living alone who have no family nearby to help them and depend on television but have no idea what to do. These are the people who are going to be left out--some of them still use rotary dial telephones. These are the people whom I would like to help because for them, tv can be a lifeline. Many of them watch shows like Jeopardy in the afternoons followed by local news.
Two Land is not Five Land and so on it goes.  
by AI2IA on December 13, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
No doubt about it. It depends on your neighborhood and its "culture." In some places folks are so downright friendly and thankful that they will smother you with kindnesses. While in other more "culturally deprived" areas they will just smother you and take your wallet, ID, and credit cards. They might even take your shoes, if they are genuine leather and have the right label. In yet other more affluent neighborhoods, they will return your kindness by exploiting the living Hades out of you, and then wanting to sue you for harming their "quallity of life."

Like Big Brother FCC says, just hand out the pamphlets and don't get further involved. Don't go into their homes, or in some culturally deprived neighborhoods you will be lucky if you come out alive. Of course, your neighborhood might be one of the better ones.
FCC Calls Amateur Radio Service for Assistance wit  
by KU4UV on December 14, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
What a joke this request is! We are two months away from the switch to DTV, how much help does the government really think hams or anyone else can provide that hasn't already been distributed at this point? Our local stations here in Lexington, Kentucky have simultaneously aired programs targeted to those who haven't already purchased DTV converters, plus there have been a ton of articles on television and in both local and national newspapers and magzines over the past year. So now, with two months to go the FCC asks for additional help in spreading the word about the DTV conversion? Give me a f-ing break! This is just one more example of your federal government not doing it's job. Just say no!

Lexington, KY.
FCC Calls Amateur Radio Service for Assistance wit  
by AI2IA on December 14, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
I think Mike, KU4UV, has the perfect take on this issue. I totally agree that it is one more example of the Nanny Government as usual going one step beyond and telling us all what we should do.

It is like the big government campaign against obesity. If they could only figure out a way to tax people by weight against a height and weight chart, they would have yet another perfect source of money to redistribute.

If people don't at this point in time know what to do about their TV sets, then they don't need TV.
RE: FCC Calls Amateur Radio Service for Assistance  
by N8DNX on December 14, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
In reviewing this proposal, I quickly came up with a long list of reasons that this is a bad idea. We then discussed it at a meeting of our disaster communications group and the sentiment was generally the same--lots of reasons to not want to do this.

The key for us, however, was that this is apparently coming in as a special request from the FCC, and none of us could remember any other direct request from the FCC for Hams to help with something like this. How then, can we say no to the FCC on their first such request to Hams and still ask them to support our spectrum and permit our operations?

If we don't participate in the DTV conversion assistance programs then don't we give the FCC, and potentially other detractors, ample excuse to reduce or limit our privileges?

We then focused on how the DTV conversion assistance effort offers a perfect opportunity to get our message out about Ham Radio assistance to the public in general, and perhaps to solicit support, donations, and to attract additional new Hams to the hobby. This seemed like the perfect leverage for getting our press releases printed and to get in front of groups we would otherwise have difficulty doing so with.

So, while you may think this whole thing is a bit off, has the potential to put Hams in the cross-hairs, and generates a litany of concerns, it seems we may be stuck with it and should make the best.
RE: FCC Calls Amateur Radio Service for Assistance  
by W6WBJ on December 15, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Oh, yeah, right! After the Enforcement Bureau has falsely accused me of jamming; claimed that I had "bad character" despite having absolutely no legal basis for such a claim; wrongfully tried to force me to come to Washington, D.C. to defend my renewal and, when I pointed out their illegal activity to the ALJ, dropped my case, SURE!! I'm going to jump right up and volunteer to help the good old FCC!!

They have got to be kidding! Any ham who would help a rotten organization like the Commission has got to have rocks in his head!
RE: FCC Calls Amateur Radio Service for Assistance  
by K4RAF on December 16, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
This is too funny to ignore. Sorry but the only things "digital" in amateur radio today are AX.25 (25+ years old) & PSK31 (1999). There have been no recent advances & the tests have been dumbed down to the point that Extras can't figure out how to tune an RF power amplifier properly.

Wi-Fi & wireless broadband have been ignored by the amateur community as a whole, even as kids run circles around hams. SLOW-SCAN TV (essentially 1970's FAX) is as "advanced" as the amateur community can claim in the video realm, no streaming & very, very little FAST-SCAN activity with NTSC analog. We are lucky to have VoIP with overbearing CONTROL...

How in the world does the FCC expect amateurs to "assist" anyone as some sort of "experts" when amateurs themselves are mostly clueless about the digital world speeding around & past them?

FCC is guilty of Absurdity; with intent to distribute...

FCC Calls Amateur Radio Service for Assistance wit  
by KE4ZHN on December 16, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
Heres an idea. How about if the FCC hires a new enforcer that isnt blind, deaf and dumb to actual facts like RH was and maybe then the amateur community will help them spread the word about DTV. The FCC has all but washed its hands of amateur radio, yet they expect us to help them do a job they have people being paid tax dollars to do? I dont think so.
FCC Calls Amateur Radio Service for Assistance wit  
by KC0RBX on December 21, 2008 Mail this to a friend!
There is give and take in every facet of this world. Give a little here, get a little there. We are members of the Amateur Radio Service. This "service" was enacted by the Federal Government. The government didn't label it The Amateur Radio Hobby. At first reading, the thought that crossed my mind was to tell the FCC to cram it. This is their mess, let them clean it up. However, this being a service, we are being called upon by our country to help out in a way which we didn't really expect. The government lets us use a certain amount of the spectrum which they really, technically, don't have to. Now, we know that it is beneficial to them and the country to have a vast communications pool from which to draw if the you know what hits the fan. In return, we get to use some of the spectrum to get our geek fix. But, the government didn't have to do it that way. They could have mandated that all of that spectrum be for commercial or government use and they would then hire those people they need to fill the government space. The government was smart in seeing that we were building and buying all of our own equipment so they didn't have to. When I upgraded my license from Technician to General they didn't give a license with more rights, they gave me a license with more privileges. A privilege is something that can be taken away, albeit easier than a right, these days. So, having said all this, I believe the government is testing us a little by seeing if we will put up or shut up. We love to bitch and moan about BPL and other incursions into our territory. They want to see if it is worth having us around or if it might just be better to boot this service in favor of some other allocation. If we can prove to be worth while to have around, they might let us keep our space. A stroke of the pen and we ALL own nothing BUT boat anchors, boys. We ain't in the Bill of Rights, we're in a li'l ol' rule book.
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