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FCC Reminds Stations to Provide DTV Hotline Number

WASHINGTON: The FCC today reminded TV stations to provide telephone numbers for people with DTV transition queries.

“We take this opportunity also to remind broadcasters that they should be prepared to answer phone calls from their viewing public in the hours immediately after their transition and in the days that follow,” the commission stated. The FCC’s implementation of the DTV Delay Act passed by Congress in February requires stations to provide a phone number for local callers and referrals from the commission’s national call center.

“The telephone number to be provided for consumer referral purposes may be operated and staffed by the station itself, by a group of stations in a market, or by a third-party entity, such as a state broadcasters’ association, so long as it is able to serve as a source of information and assistance for viewers having difficulty receiving that particular station’s signal,” the FCC statement said.

Stations have been required to publicize the number since April 1. The operators standing by have to have to be prepared to answer questions about location-specific reception and other engineering issues. Staff has to be on hand during business hours, and of adequate numbers during a station’s actual shut-off.

“This is especially, although not exclusively, true of stations that are terminating analog service on the final day of the DTV transition, June 12, 2009,” the reminder said. “Despite the extensive efforts of the commission and broadcasters, many viewers will need assistance in the immediate post-transition period, particularly regarding reception issues.”

The commission said stations shutting down analog transmitters Friday evening ought to have someone man the phones over the weekend “because their viewers may not have the opportunity to even test for problems until after business hours.” The FCC said its own National Call Center will be active 24 hours a day up to and after June 12, forwarding calls directly to stations when necessary. -- Deborah D. McAdams