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FCC: DTV Causes No Widespread Disruption

As expected, the FCC's DTV help line set a record for calls with 317,450 received Friday, June 12, when 971 full-power TV stations pulled the plug on analog.

The commission said the transition "caused no widespread disruption of free, over-the-air television broadcasts."

The FCC said Saturday that about a third of the calls dealt with converter box operation, and most of those were resolved by having customers re-scan, a message the FCC also made part of the computer-voiced instructions at the beginning of each DTV call center response.

About 20% of the calls dealt with reception issues.

But Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps was not breaking out the champagne just yet. "I am pleased with the way our FCC team responded to the technical challenges that arose throughout the course of the day,” he said in announcing the call-center figures and outreach results. “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 commission conceded there were longer waits during call spikes, but said the average wait for an operator was 4.6 minutes per call, but only 1.8 minutes for Spanish-speaking calls. Hispanic households have a higher analog-only percentage and were a targeted DTV at-risk group.

The FCC said that 121 stations are providing analog nightlight service in 87 markets. That is an addition of three stations since the FCC's announcement Thursday that 118 stations had signed up, which itself was up from 99 a few days before.

The FCC had urged/begged as many stations as possible to provide the service, which is DTV transition information, and if needed, emergency news and weather, for 30 days after the transition.