Callers Keep FCC Hotline Busy

While local stations took phone calls and, in some cases, created FCC-mandated walk-in help centers, many people called the FCC DTV Hotline (1-888-CALLFCC) for information. The FCC reported that it took 27,764 calls on Tuesday, Feb. 17 and an additional 25,320 calls the next day. The FCC categorized the calls by question and date.

Sunday and Monday, prior to some stations’ analog shutoff, the majority of the calls concerned problems with the converter box coupon program--mostly coupons ordered from NTIA that hadn't arrived. This accounted for more than 20 percent of the calls on Friday, Feb. 13. The following Tuesday and Wednesday, most calls came from viewers with reception and technical problems.

On Wednesday, 19.3 percent of the callers (slightly more than 5,000) reported problems receiving any DTV channels. “Weak or spotty signals” were a problem with 6.5 percent of Tuesday's callers, rising to 8.5 percent the next day.

Another 16.8 percent had problems receiving a specific station. Callers that had to rescan their converter boxes to get stations accounted for about four percent of the calls on both Tuesday and Wednesday.

Other data from the FCC revealed that about five percent of the callers found their antenna didn’t work, had no antenna, or didn't have an antenna connected. More than five percent of the calls were from viewers who didn't understand the instructions for their digital TV or converter box. This category increased to 8.2 percent on the 14th.

Kudos to the FCC for releasing this detailed analysis. It will be useful in planning DTV education efforts for the big June 12 analog shutdown.