The Federal Communications Commission released figures Wednesday showing that it got a total of 797 calls to its hotline from Wilmington, N.C., viewers on the first day of the early analog cutoff Sept. 8.
By Tuesday, that number dropped to 424, the FCC said.
Of all those calls, the commission said, only 23 were from viewers unaware of the switch.
The FCC concluded that the vast majority of viewers were aware of the switch and "seemed to be ready for it," pointing out that the volume of calls represented only "one-half of one percent of area homes," using the 400,000 figure for both in-market and surrounding-market viewers that could be affected.
“The results of the digital-television switch in Wilmington show that the collective efforts of the commission, the community and the industry to inform viewers of the early transition in this local market were effective," FCC chairman Kevin Martin said in a statement.
Of the calls the FCC received, 160 were about problems with setting up converter boxes, with the FCC able to help 75 of them. Another 178 said they were having reception problems or technical issues. The FCC was able to help 22 of those by helping them rescan for the new channels.
The FCC continues to help resolve those issues or help viewers understand them.
In the latter department, 232 viewers were unable to locate Wilmington affiliate WECT-TV. The FCC attributed that to the fact that its analog signal reached out-of-market viewers -- in Myrtle Beach, S.C., and Raleigh, N.C., for example -- who won't receive the Wilmington signal now that it is digital.
Following is the FCC's breakdown of those calls:
• CONSUMERS WHO WERE NOT AWARE OF THE TRANSITION:
They were not aware of the switch to DTV: 9
They were unaware of the correct transition date: 5
They did not think the stations they watch would switch to digital: 9
• CONSUMERS WHO WERE AWARE BUT DID NOT ACT
They forgot to upgrade: 24
They were unable to attain assistance to upgrade: 4
They relied on another member of their household to upgrade: 3
They waited too long to buy or set up a digital set or a converter box: 31
They were out of town or too busy or knew they could do it later: 5
• CONSUMERS WHO HAD PROBLEMS WITH THE CONVERTER-BOX-COUPON PROGRAM
A coupon did not arrive in time: 27
Wanted coupon or had not received coupon from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration: 59
The retail store was out of boxes: 1
• CONSUMERS WHO HAD INITIAL DIFFICULTY WITH THEIR CONVERTER BOXES
Setting up converter boxes was too hard: 27
They didn't understand the instructions for the digital set or the converter box: 34
Their converter box "didn't work": 100
• CONSUMERS WHO HAD RECEPTION AND TECHNICAL PROBLEMS
Their antenna didn't work, they have no antenna or their antenna wasn't connected: 33
Problem with channel or call sign: 85
Weak or spotty signal: 60
• CONSUMERS COMPLAINING ABOUT NOT RECEIVING WILMINGTON SIGNALS
Problem with channel or call sign: 232
• OTHER PROBLEMS
Satellite subscribers to Dish Network or DirecTV did not subscribe to local package: 22
Thought all of their sets were hooked up to cable or satellite: 14
They were waiting for cable or satellite installation: 6
Wanted DTV consumer information sent to them: 7
• TOTAL: 797
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.
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