What DTV Issues?

Historians looking back at the DTV transition will find that almost nobody had a DTV-related inquiry in the days and weeks surrounding the June 12, 2009, shift from analog to digital. That is, if they go by the FCC’s own quarterly report on inquiries and complaints to the commission for the three-month period, released earlier this month.

That will undoubtedly come as a surprise to the hundreds of operators who handled thousands of phone calls inquiring about their service, at least according to the FCC, which said at the time that it had to put on extra crews to handle the flood. Or perhaps it won’t be a shock, given that the FCC coded most of the concerns as equipment problems, even though there was a DTV inquiry category.

Under the “Radio & Television Broadcasting” category, there were only 886 DTV inquiries in all of June 2009. There were, however, 369,933 “equipment” inquiries for the month, which included questions about the converter box program, scanning, rescanning, antennas and other DTV-related matters.

“You’re right, it was mainly DTV stuff,” an FCC spokeswoman concedes. “But when [operators in two consumer centers] logged them in, there was a code set up for equipment and that is where they put them.”

Could these then be reclassified for the record, to reflect issues the FCC actually did have to address? “They’ve been resolved now,” the spokeswoman says. “We’ve moved on.”

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.