DTV Switch: Help Calls to FCC Decreasing

Feb 19, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission said calls to its digital-TV transition help lines decreased Wednesday, the day after 417 stations switched away from analog signals.
The decline may suggest that more viewers were concerned about the prospect of the DTV transition than actually had problems with the conversion. The FCC numbers don’t take into account calls to local stations.
The National Association of Broadcasters estimated that by noon Wednesday, stations on average were receiving 50 to 200 calls. It did not provide call numbers for later Wednesday, when viewers sitting down to watch prime time TV would have been impacted, potentially generating the most calls.
For TVWeek’s comprehensive coverage of the digital television transition, visit the DTV Switch Navigator page.
The NAB said the number of calls “paled in comparison to the 12.4 million over-the-air only households that were in affected markets.”
Some markets, including Oklahoma City, noted higher call volume than that average.
Most stations that chose to switch on Feb. 17 made the switch at midnight Tuesday night, though Some did the switch earlier in the day. They had stuck with the original date set for the DTV switch, before Congress delayed the national switchover to June 12.
The FCC today said there were 27,764 calls to its call centers Tuesday, when relatively few stations switched during the day. On Wednesday, when most viewers would have started wrestling with their TVs, the agency reported 25,320 calls.
Informal surveys conducted before Congress changed the official switch date to June indicated nine out of 10 TV industry workers opposed the delay. The Obama administration argued that lack of readiness in some markets and an ineffective coupon program to fund purchases of analog-to-digital converter boxes necessitated the delay.
Acting FCC Chairman Michael J. Copps suggested that any disruption this week may have been minimized because most stations in larger markets pushed back their switchover.
“Thanks to the movement of the deadline, we did not have anything like the extent of disruption we would have experienced had every station in the country gone completely digital on Tuesday,” he said.
“Everyone needs to remember that this is just the end of the beginning of the DTV transition,” Mr. Copps added. “Most stations and most consumers still have the transition ahead of them. The Commission is working full-time to learn the lessons of what just happened and to revise our outreach programs and rules-of-the-road to take us to June 12.”
(Editor: Baumann. Updated 7 p.m. to add third paragraph.)

One Comment

  1. Another possibility, and the one urged by the center’s brief, is the Fourteenth Amendment’s “privileges and immunities” clause, which says that “no state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges and immunities of citizens of the United States.” The virtues of that clause are it makes sense by its terms and there is some evidence that its framers specifically wanted it to apply to allow freed slaves to have guns to defend themselves.

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