The Digital TV Transition The Digital TV Transition

A record number of consumers called the Federal Communications Commission's help line after a "soft test" that the organization hoped would encourage TV viewers to prepare for the June 12 digital TV transition.

The FCC's test led 55,000 consumers — a single-day record for the help line — to call in for assistance last Thursday. The line typically receives 15,000 calls per day.

The majority of the calls the FCC fielded were in relation to the government's coupon program, which offers consumers $40 toward the purchase of their analog-to-digital converter box. Fifteen percent of callers were concerned with reception in their area, while 10 percent sought instructions on installing a converter box.

As of May 10, Nielsen estimates that 3.3 million households (or 2.9 percent of U.S. homes with TVs) were still unprepared for the switch to digital-only broadcasting. Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said this test was a success at alerting those households.

"This soft test did exactly what it was supposed to do," Copps said in a statement. "It was a wake-up call for consumers who are unprepared, alerting them to the fact that they need to take the necessary steps before the June 12 DTV transition."

More than 125 broadcast markets participated in the test, including at least one station in each of the top 30 markets. Participating broadcasters interrupted regular programming to warn viewers they still weren't ready for the switch and instructed them to call the FCC help line with questions.

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