WASHINGTON DC: The Federal Communications Commission has bowed to pressure from the US television industry over its plans for public information commercials urging consumers to ready themselves for the 2009 digital TV switchover.

The FCC had wanted broadcasters to air as many as twelve such ads daily in the run-up to the February 2009 deadline. But TV stations had baulked at the proposals, complaining they were being asked to give up too much lucrative airtime.

The regulator says it is now ready to entertain a more flexible strategy, proposed by the TV companies, that guarantees at least four ads a week during primetime hours, together with a 30-minute pre-switchover program about the transition.

The new strategy will also allow TV stations more freedom in writing their own messages and to use other ways of educating viewers, such as participating in community events.

Currently, around 13 million US households still rely on antenna connection to the analog TV signal. Unless they sign up to cable or satellite services or buy digital converter boxes, by February 17 next year, they face a TV blackout.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff