FCC Fields 317K Calls on DTV Transition Day
Record amount of calls dealt with operation of converter boxes and reception.
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June 16, 2009 by Steve Crowe

The DTV transition has finally passed, and whaddaya know, the world’s still standing.

The FCC did receive a record 317,450 calls on June 12, 2009 when 971 TV stations (195 markets) went all-digital.

According to the FCC (pdf), there were 700,000 calls handled between June 8-12. Nearly 30 percent dealt with operation of digital converter boxes, while more than 20 percent dealt with reception issues.

The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) released the following highlights of the transition:

  • DTV awareness grew from 38 percent in January 2007 to 98-plus percent in June 2009
  • 9 of 10 U.S. households knew the transition impacted over-the-air television signals
  • More than 60 million converter box coupons were requested
  • 30 million digital TV sets were sold in 2008 alone

Statement from FCC chairman Michael Copps:

“I am pleased with the way our FCC team responded to the technical challenges that arose throughout the course of the day. 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 DTV transition, of course, was delayed four months because too many Americans were unprepared for the switch. Two days before the switch happened, Nielsen found that 2.8 million households were still unprepared, marking a significant drop from the 5.8 million households Nielsen found were unready back in February 2009.

The NAB, however, released conflicting numbers that said only 1.8 million households remained unready when the switch occurred. Here’s the statement from NAB VP for digital television Jonathan Collegio:

“America is the first large country in the world to complete the transition to all-digital broadcasting, and our early reports show that the transition has been a success. Television broadcasters, from local stations to major networks, took the lead in educating and prompting viewers to take advantage of the numerous benefits of free digital television. The broadcaster campaign elevated public awareness from 38 percent to over 98 percent in two short years.

“Millions of households across the country are now enjoying dramatically better pictures and sound in digital compared to what they were able to see and hear on their TV sets for the past several decades. Free high definition broadcasts are available in every market in the country with just an antenna and an HDTV set.

“Free TV is better than ever, but more is to come. Broadcasters are already working to improve on the digital experience, as experiments with mobile digital television begin this summer. Stay tuned for the next generation of free digital television.”

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