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FCC: Call Center Fielded 28K Queries

2/18/2009 02:47:00 PM Eastern

Washington — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said today that it received more than 28,000 calls on its consumer help line Tuesday, with more expected today, as some of the 421 TV broadcasters scheduled to shut down their analog transmission began pulling the plugs to those services prior to midnight.

The FCC said that the calls on Tuesday came in response to only a portion of the broadcasters who completed their transitions to all-digital TV broadcasting during the day, or from owners of digital TVs who did not know they needed to perform a channel rescan, as some digital TV stations moved their digital channel assignments at the same time.

However, the majority of the 421 stations that had notified the FCC of their analog termination plans did not actually turn off their broadcasts until midnight, so a greater volume of calls was expected today.

The FCC’s help line, (888) CALL-FCC, received on Tuesday 28,315 calls, which was up 37 percent over Monday’s 20,673 call volume. Preliminary results for Wednesday indicated the center was seeing a 5 percent increase in calls. From midnight until 11 a.m., the call center received 6,750 calls, “well within the capacity of the call center,” the FCC said in statement.

The FCC’s call center was established to help consumers with information about why their analog TV sets are no longer receiving channels and how they can take action to receive new digital broadcasts, either by using new digital TVs, or by hooking their current TVs up to an over-the-air TV converter box or a multichannel TV service.

The FCC said about 220 stations made the transition before Tuesday, for a total of 641 stations having made the transition by the end of Tuesday, or 36 percent, of the full-power stations nationwide.

Stations making the transition before Tuesday included those in the Wilmington, N.C., market, which made the transition on Sept. 8, 2008, and Hawaii, which made the transition on Jan. 15.

The FCC said many of the calls that came in Tuesday were from consumers who were unaware that they should run the “scan” function on their digital televisions or converter boxes in order to get reception from a station that changed its digital channel after the transition.

Call center agents were trained to walk consumers through the process. Information about scanning and other answers to transition questions can be found at www.dtv.gov.

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