06.16.2009 03:25 PM
Call Count Exceeds 900,000

WASHINGTON: The Federal Communications Commission said its DTV transition help line has received more than 900,000 calls since last Monday. Calls continue to come in following Friday’s DTV deadline, when around 970 TV stations around the country stopped transmitting analog signals. Calls peaked at 317,340 on that day, the FCC said. Another 145,403 calls came in on Saturday, and 62,949 came in on Sunday.

“About 28 percent of callers who talked with an FCC agent Sunday sought help setting up digital-converter boxes for analog TVs, while nearly 26 percent reported difficulty receiving a specific station, and another 23 percent needed help resolving broader reception issues,” the FCC said. The call center also transferred more 235,000 calls from people asking about the converter coupon program. Those calls were sent to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the Commerce Department agency handling the program.

“The FCC is in the midst, not the end, of the DTV transition,” said FCC Acting Chairman Michael Copps. “Our call center remains open, our teams are in the field, and our Web site, www.dtv.gov, is updated to reflect the kinds of problems viewers are having.”

Several TV stations moved to new channel assignments on Friday, meaning that converter boxes and TVs had to be reprogrammed to find them. The FCC issued a separate missive on how to rescan for channels. (See, “If at First You Don’t Succeed…”)

The FCC is also looking into signal loss reports from viewers in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York. More than 300 TV stations were expected to lose 2 percent or more of their viewing audience in the transition because of the differences in analog versus digital coverage areas. The FCC said it’s continuing to look into the matter. -- Deborah D. McAdams 

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