The Federal Communications Commission is injecting itself into another NFL halftime show, only this time it's not cracking down on a "wardrobe malfunction," but is attempting to sell the nation on dig

WASHINGTON (The Hollywood Reporter) -- The Federal Communications Commission is injecting itself into another NFL halftime show, only this time it's not cracking down on a "wardrobe malfunction," but is attempting to sell the nation on digital TV.

FCC chairman Michael Powell was interviewed Oct. 4 at halftime during the Baltimore Ravens-Kansas City Chiefs game, extolling the virtues of digital TV. The interview by ABC Sports sideline reporter Michelle Tifoia in the network's digital TV production truck is part of the commission's new strategy to sell Americans on the digital television system.

"I haven't even done it, and it's the coolest thing I've ever done," Powell said during a press conference launching the FCC's Web site designed to give consumers information on the transition.

"Although for the vast majority of American households, digital television may be uncharted territory, we will not let them go it alone," Powell said. "If you have questions about digital television, the FCC is ready to serve as a primary resource for quick answers. Then we hope they will get DTV -- get the set, get the connection, get the content."

While the transition from analog to digital TV has been going on for years, there is new pressure to force broadcasters to give up their analog channels so they can be used by public safety agencies and for advanced telecommunications services (ELW, Sept. 28).

Powell reiterated his desire to have a hard date for the switch. Under current law, broadcasters are required to make the switch in 2006 or when 85% of the TV audience can receive digital TV. Powell said he supported efforts in the Senate to give people a subsidy for digital tuners or other devices that would allow people who depend on over-the-air transmissions for their television.

Powell, however, rejected the notion that all of the TV sets in the nation had to become DTV-compatible before the analog channels can be returned, saying "it'll be 50 years before every last TV set" can be converted.

Powell said he hopes to wrap up that rulemaking and others related to the DTV transition by year's end.