Top DTV Call Category Is Over Reception Issues

According to just-released FCC figures, the FCC, the greatest percentage of DTV-related calls it received on Feb. 17 were from viewers who were having reception or technical problems, which it defined as problems receiving any channels, antenna problems, or weak or intermittent signals. Those accounted for 26% of the 27,764 calls it received.

Calls were down slightly Wednesday to 25,320, but reception and/or technical issues accounted for almost a third of the calls (32.5%).

Coming in second were calls about problems with converter boxes (coupon had not arrived, had not been requested or the store was out of converter boxes), representing 21.8% of all calls on Tuesday, 20.1% of the Wednesday calls.

Only 4.5% of the calls on Tuesday, the day when 421 stations pulled the plug on analog, were from people who were not aware of the transition. That number was down to 2.2% on Wednesday. Only 2.3% of the calls on Tuesday came from people who were unaware of the correct transition date--the Congress moved it to June 12 last week. That percentage had dropped to .8% by Wednesday.

The FCC said Wednesday that the early returns from the partial transition were good. Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps praised broadcast,
cable, and government for "stepping up to the plate," then told them they would need to do even more in the coming months.

He likened the partial transition--421 stations pulled the plug Feb. 17, joining 220 who had already done so in the days leading up to that date--to a larger test--the FCC used Wilmington, NC, as its first test back in September. He said moving the date ""gave the FCC, broadcasters and our other partners in industry and the communities a chance to test, on a broader scale, the mechanisms we have in place to help consumers. And we could test those resources without overwhelming them."

HE also credited the date move, along with the consumer education campaign and that fact that nearly two thirds of stations chose to continue in analog, with reducing the dislocation. ""Thanks to the movement of the deadline, we did not have anything like the extent of disruption we would have experienced had every station in the country gone completely digital on Tuesday," he said.

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.