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More Calls for Help

11:05 AM -- It was the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) 's turn Wednesday to weigh in on how consumers in Wilmington, N.C., reacted to Monday's early digital TV transition. The rest of the U.S. cuts over on February 17, 2009. (See Wilmington Flips the Digital Switch .)

Based on calls received by the FCC the day after the cut-over, the agency said the "vast majority" of the area's 400,000 TV viewers (180,000 households) were aware of the transition and were ready to deal with it. The findings were similar to what Wilmington-area TV stations reported earlier in the week. (See Calls for Help .)

And now some FCC numbers: During the first say of the transition, 797 Wilmington residents called the FCC helpline with questions. On the second day, September 9, call volume dipped to 424. The FCC said it receiving only 23 calls on the first day from people who apparently crawled from under their rocks to report that they weren't aware of the early transition.

Also, like the initial report from area broadcasters, the FCC said most calls were from people who needed help with converter boxes or other reception or technical issues. Among converter box-related set-up calls, 75 of 160 inquiries were from people who needed guidance with the installation process.

According to the FCC, here's how the calls broke down on Day 1: Table 1: Why They Called
Category Count
CONSUMERS WHO WERE NOT AWARE OF THE TRANSITION
They were unaware of the switch to DTV 9
They were unaware of the correct transition date 5
They did not think the stations they watch would switch to digital 9
Subtotal: 23
CONSUMERS WHO WERE AWARE BUT DID NOT ACT
They forgot to upgrade 24
They were unable to attain assistance to upgrade 4
They relied on another member of their household to upgrade 3
They waited too long to buy or set up a digital set or a converter box 31
They were out of town or too busy or knew they could do it later 5
Subtotal: 67
CONSUMERS WHO HAD PROBLEMS WITH THE CONVERTER BOX COUPON PROGRAM
A coupon did not arrive in time 27
Wanted coupon or had not received coupon from NTIA 59
The retail store was out of boxes 1
Subtotal: 87
CONSUMERS WHO HAD INITIAL DIFFICULTY WITH THEIR CONVERTER BOXES
Setting up converter boxes was too hard 27
They didn't understand the instructions for the digital set or the converter box 34
Their converter box "didn't work" 100
Subtotal: 161
CONSUMERS WHO HAD RECEPTION AND TECHNICAL PROBLEMS
Their antenna didn't work or they have no antenna or their antenna wasn't connected 33
Problem with channel or call sign 85
Weak or spotty signal 60
Subtotal: 178
CONSUMERS COMPLAINING ABOUT NOT RECEIVING WILMINGTON SIGNALS
Problem with channel or call sign 232
Subtotal: 232
OTHER PROBLEMS
Satellite subscribers to Dish Network or Direct TV � did not subscribe to local package 22
They thought all their sets were hooked up to cable or satellite 14
They were waiting for cable or satellite installation 6
Wanted DTV consumer information sent to them 7
Subtotal: 49
Total 797
Source: FCC




— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

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