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FCC Fields 28K DTV Calls On First Day Of Shutoffs

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said that it received more than 28,000 calls on its consumer help line Tuesday, Feb. 17, as some of the 421 TV broadcasters scheduled to shut down their analog transmission began pull the plug to those services prior to midnight.

The FCC said that the calls on original deadline for the digital TV transition 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.

The FCC’s help line, (888) CALL-FCC, received 28,315 calls, which was up 37 percent over the day before’s 20,673 call volume, and preliminary results for the next day indicated a 5 percent increase in calls. From midnight until 11 a.m. on Feb. 18, the call center received 6,750 calls, “well within the capacity of the call center,” the FCC said in statement.

The FCC said about 220 stations made the transition before Feb. 17, for a total of 641 stations having made the transition by the end of that day, or 36 percent, of the full-power stations nationwide.

The FCC said many of the calls that came 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.