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WWAY Wilmington GM: Only Four Calls Tuesday

At press time (about 3:30 p.m. EST) Andy Combs, general manager of ABC affiliate WWAY Wilmington, N.C., said he had gotten only four more calls Tuesday regarding the early analog cutoff there.

Combs was preparing to return those calls, but he said he was confident that they could all be attributed to the fact that while the callers had hooked up their digital-TV-to-analog converter boxes, they had not scanned for the digital channels, which takes a couple pushes of a button.

Combs added that of all the calls his station got in two days, only one came from someone who said they hadn't heard of the test. "To me, alone, that is successful,” he said. “So what we have done in terms of educating the public was very, very successful."

Combs also said that from a technical standpoint, everything went flawlessly. "Our signals are all fine,” he added. “There is no Y2K or blackout. The problems that have occurred are with people who did not properly set up the equipment."

He said there is probably no educational solution for some people, adding, "I think you could put up a plaque for two years and you are still going to have a percentage of the population that doesn't set this up right because you have a percentage of the population that may just not have the aptitude to do it right."

There was no answer at WECT-TV, the NBC affiliate in the market, which received 82 calls Monday.

Combs theorized that the relatively heavy volume of calls about WECT may have been from folks outside of the market who had been able to receive the NBC affiliate in analog, but not in digital. The digital footprint for a station's digital signal does not necessarily exactly mirror its analog coverage.

An FCC spokesman said the FCC had received "several hundred" Wilmington calls to its help line by 6 p.m., and expected to have new numbers, which would include last night's prime time hours--8-11--by later Tuesday.

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.