Digital Transition Prompts Record Number of FCC Help Line Calls
Digital TV Transition
Friday's complete switch from analog broadcasting to digital prompted more than 300,000 phone calls to the Federal Communications Commission's digital transition help line.
A record 317,450 calls were placed on Friday, bringing the total number of calls between June 8 and June 12 to around 700,000, according to the FCC. The agency reports that nearly 30 percent of the calls were related to questions about analog-to digital converter boxes. Most of those calls were resolved by consumers "re-scanning" for channels that had changed frequency when going digital. Another 20 percent of the calls dealt with reception issues.
In anticipation for the spike in calls, the FCC manned the phone lines with 4,000 staffers. The agency also dispersed more than 200 workers in the field. Those staffers reported the majority of questions received to be similar to those of the help line.
"I am pleased with the way our FCC team responded to the technical challenges that arose throughout the course of the day," acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said in a statement. "But our job is far from over. This transition is not a one-day affair. We have known about re-scanning and reception issues for some time and have been doing our best to get the word out. We will continue to work with every consumer who needs assistance in making this important and necessary transition."
The largest number of calls per TV household came from the Chicago, Dallas-Ft. Worth, New York, Philadelphia and Baltimore markets. Despite the flurry of phone activity, the transition went smoothly, with no disruptions in over-the-air digital broadcasts.
In 87 markets — including 45 of the 49 markets identified as "hot spots" requiring the most attention during the transition — viewers who lost their television service still received an analog "nightlight" service. The service displayed the FCC help line number and other information about the transition, and will also broadcast urgent news or emergency information.
Nielsen estimates going into Friday's transition suggested that 2.8 million homes were not prepared for the switch.