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Copps Hails DTV Step Forward

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps Friday hailed the DTV transition as a step forward for broadcasters, consumers and first responders.

"Today's historic transition to digital TV is an important step forward in U.S. broadcasting, offering consumers access to more free over-the-air programming as well as higher quality pictures and sound. The transition also frees up valuable airwaves for emergency communications and advanced wireless services," he said in a statement.

But he cautioned again that there were miles to go before the FCC sleeps.

"At the same time, I recognize the great challenge that today's switch presents for many consumers. Even though the overwhelming majority of households are DTV-ready, we are fully committed to helping those who have yet to join the digital television age both today and in the days to come. Some consumers may experience problems that have simple solutions, such as adjusting antennas or re-scanning for channels, and we have 4,000 trained operators standing by on our toll-free helpline, 1-888-CALL-FCC, 24 hours a day, to talk them through those and any other more serious problems they may have."

There were signs the call center might be flooded already, with hundreds of stations still to shut off their signal. A spokesman for the chairman was not available for comment at press time.

"Along with Commissioners Adelstein and McDowell, my staff and I will be monitoring the transition closely, analyzing the types of calls our helpline is getting, communicating regularly with broadcasters and other key stakeholders, and getting feedback from our FCC staff in the field. We are ready to respond quickly and focus resources wherever they may be needed."

The FCC has 200 staffers in the field, as well as volunteers from AmeriCorp. and local fire stations, as well as paid contractors for DTV outreach and in-home visits.

Copps has gotten almost universal praise for his handling of the run-up to the transition after the Congress delayed it for four months.