NAB To Launch National DTV Hotline

The National Association of Broadcasters says it will create a national hotline to answer calls from viewers during the upcoming digital transition, which it estimates to be at about 2 million for the five days following the Feb. 17 switch, with up to a million on Feb. 18.

Beefing up call centers was reportedly one of the issues raised in a DTV transition meeting in Washington a couple of weeks ago

between the Obama transition team and DTV stakeholders including the NAB.

A source says NAB members pushed for a call center action plan.

The FCC currently has a call center staffed by at least 50--the FCC says more--but a source says the FCC has expressed concerns that there would need to be more folks on the help lines.

NAB also said Tuesday it is producing an educational DTV video that stations can loop and run on their analog channels after the transition.

A just-passed DTV nightlight bill

allows broadcasters to continue an analog signal for 30 days past the Feb. 17 date for DTV education or emergency information.

“Establishing a plan to respond to consumer questions about the DTV transition is another example of the broadcast industry’s continuing leadership and unwavering commitment to help Americans prepare for the historic transition to digital television,” said NAB President David Rehr in a statement. “Utilizing the airwaves, numerous grassroots and marketing initiatives and now a nationwide hotline, NAB and broadcasters are doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for all viewers across the nation.”

The NAB announcement follows the news Monday that the National Telecommunications & Information Adminsitration was working with outside groups to set up brick and morter DTV help centers in seven markets with high DTV "at risk" populations.

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.