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CONTACT: Amy Smorodin
February 6, 2008
(202) 289-8928
Mandated DTV Consumer Ed Plan Unnecessary and Unconstitutional

WASHINGTON D.C. - Ken Ferree, President of The Progress & Freedom Foundation, had the following comments regarding a proposed mandate to standardize DTV education messages:

"I am disturbed by reports that the Federal Communications Commission will soon mandate that each and every local broadcaster air the exact same, state-sponsored, bureaucratically-crafted message about the digital television transition. The FCC would, if these reports are true, be pressing the panic button and trampling core Constitutional values in an effort that is wholly unnecessary in light of the voluntary consumer education initiative that has been offered by the broadcast industry.

"We are now one year away from the end of analog television. The concerned industries – particularly the broadcast industry – are best positioned to decide what kind of information consumers need and when they need it. Market pressures ensure that those who have the most to lose (and gain) in the transition are properly motivated to educate the American people about digital television.

"The consumer education plan proposed by the National Association of Broadcasters evidences this reality. With a comprehensive multi-platform approach that will reportedly make more than 132 billion impressions on the American public, the NAB plan is remarkable both in scope and ambition. It should be allowed to work. At the very least, broadcasters adhering to the NAB plan should be given "safe harbor" from an unnecessary, government-mandated, one-size-fits-all approach.

"Worse, however, than merely being unnecessary, an intrusive, government mandated plan would be dismissive of fundamental Constitutional freedoms. The First Amendment protects not only the right to speak, but also the corollary right not to speak. That corollary right is most pressing and important when agents of the government attempt to coerce the expression of particular views or a particular message. The reported FCC plan would, therefore, almost certainly be overturned in court if challenged."

Ferree is available for comment. Please contact Amy Smorodin at or 202-289-8928.

The Progress & Freedom Foundation is a market-oriented think tank that studies the digital revolution and its implications for public policy. It is a 501(c)(3) research & educational organization.



The Progress & Freedom Foundation