Consumers Flood Call Centers Seeking DTV Help

Jun 12, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The FCC Call Center is experiencing high demand due to consumers seeking help with the digital transition taking place today, Broadcasting & Cable reports.

Wait time is up to 15 minutes, with 4,000 operators standing by to assist callers. Many callers are also experiencing hang-ups.

Last week, the National Telecommunications & Information Administration gave the FCC $10 million in funding for DTV-outreach call centers, setting “an ideal target wait time of a half-minute or so before a real person got on the phone.”

Over 500 stations have already made the switch to digital, the trade magazine says. Some did so as early as Feb. 17, the original DTV switch date.

That leaves 971stations to pull the plug today during different times of the day. Between midnight and noon today, 425 stations pulled the plug on their analog signals. The latest figures indicate that 155 stations are expected to go digital between noon and 6 p.m. The rest of the 391 stations will make the switch to digital by midnight tonight.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps Friday hailed the DTV transition as “an important step forward in U.S. broadcasting, offering consumers access to more free over-the-air programming as well as higher quality pictures and sound. The transition also frees up valuable airwaves for emergency communications and advanced wireless services.”

Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), chairman of the House Communications Subcommittee, was confident the DTV transition would be smooth and "uneventful for the vast majority of Americans," Multichannel News reports.

He pointed out that 97.5% of TV households are fully prepared for the transition and that the FCC call centers are "staffed and ready."

However, some households are still unprepared, uninformed and seeking help.

Baton Rouge’s CBS-affiliate WAFB reported that its call center was experiencing a high demand of callers after it made the switch today at 7 a.m. Central time, the New York Times reports.

“Believe it or not, a lot of people saying they didn’t know anything about the switch,” the station said via a message on its twitter feed.

Meanwhile, the NTIA reported a spike in DTV-to-analog converter box coupon requests on Thursday, Multichannel News says.

While the 319,990 coupon requests are only 10th in the list of biggest one-day requests, it is way above the average daily order of 114,272.

–Vlada Gelman


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