No Major Problems Reported From Early DTV Switch - InformationWeek

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2/18/2009
05:30 PM
K.C. Jones
K.C. Jones
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No Major Problems Reported From Early DTV Switch

The transition to digital television appears to be going smoothly for most viewers in areas that went ahead with the switch instead of taking advantage of the postponed deadline.

The transition to digital television appears to be going smoothly for most viewers in areas that went ahead with the switch instead of taking advantage of the postponed deadline.The Federal Communications Commission reported 28,315 calls to its consumer help line for the digital television transition on Tuesday. Figures weren't available for Wednesday, but FCC officials estimated a 5% increase as hundreds of stations stopped broadcasting analog signals. The FCC said its help line workers were able to handle the volume and answer the calls almost immediately.

Most callers needed instructions to scan for reception from stations that changed channels after the transition, according to the FCC.

More than 400 stations decided to transition from analog to digital signals long before the extended June deadline, saying they already had invested in upgrades and renovations required to meet the original Feb. 17 deadline.

Most stations switching early expressed confidence that viewers in their markets were prepared, despite broader confusion, delays, and a waiting list for converter box coupons issued by the National Telecommunications Information Administration. About 2.4 million households are on the waiting list, according to the NTIA.

CBS, NBC, and ABC said they will continue to broadcast analog signals.

The stimulus plan signed by President Barack Obama this week provides additional funding to extend the coupon program and officials have said that the backlog of people waiting for coupons should be cleared within a few weeks.

Only televisions that use antennas need converter boxes to pick up digital signals.

So far, it appears that all is well in the markets that switched to digital early. Hopefully, that's true, and, with a little coordination, the national switch should go smoothly as well.

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