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FCC Taps IBM For DTV Call Center

House Bill Backs June 12 DTV Date
The DTV Countdown: Complete Coverage of the DTV Transition
The FCC has chosen IBM to handle its DTV call center--the same subcontractor that the National Telecommunications & Information Administration tapped to oversee the DTV-to-analog coverter box coupon distribution.

That coupon distribution has been slowed to a virtual stop after it ran up against a funding ceiling. Congress is trying to fix the problem, but may also move the transition date from Feb. 17 to June 12 to make sure there is enough time to get the coupons flowing and do some more educating. CBS took the opportunity to preach to its large, pre-NFL playoff game audience, with its studio sports team pointing out the DTV transition was coming and asking people to call the 1-800-DTV2009 hotline.

The FCC said late Friday, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin's last day, that it had awarded the up-to-$12 million call center contract, which it says will allow it to field up to 2 million calls the week of the transition, and up to 400,000 calls the day after the transition date, whatever that turns out to be.

The money comes form $20 million Congress appropriated in September to fund digital outreach efforts.

The FCC has come under heavy criticism both externally and on the Hill for the call center program and its percieved lack of planning and ability to handle the flood of calls.

IBM has only about four weeks to get ready.