DTV spurs huge increase in consumer inquiries to FCC

The Federal Communications Commission released figures May 6 showing the number of consumer inquiries it received regarding broadcast in the fourth quarter of 2008 grew 194 percent, but consumer complaints related to broadcasters fell 27 percent from the preceding quarter.

According to the commission, the chief reason for increased inquiries was the DTV transition. For the quarter, the commission received 180,949 inquiries related to broadcast, up from 61,404 in the third quarter of 2008, the commission said.

Inquiries regarding cable and satellite service grew as well in the fourth quarter to 15,594, up more than 73 percent from the third quarter. Of these inquiries, 77 percent were related to digital television issues.

Complaints related to broadcasters dropped to 29,106 in the fourth quarter from 40,057 during the third quarter of 2008. Satellite- and cable-related complaints dropped 7 percent for the quarter to 2007.

For the entire year of 2008, the total number of consumer inquiries the commission received totaled 468,431, up from 111,678 for all of 2007. Consumer inquiries related to DTV in 2008 were up 1787 percent compared to 2007 with the commission receiving 281,168 inquiries vs. 14,895 the preceding year.

While complaints for the fourth quarter were down, the yearly total showed the opposite. In 2008, there were 210,190 complaints related to programming – indecency/obscenity compared to 154,626 in 2007, up 35 percent.