DTV Changeover Begins; Initial Reports Good
It's been a long time coming but the switch to digital television broadcasts is finally getting underway on a large scale. What is amazing is that the number of people who called in with "problems" getting a signal is actually quite low, according to the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).
Unsurprisingly, while the broadcast industry has spent more than a billion dollars on consumer education about the changeover, there are some people who have delayed purchase of a converter box for their television sets and on February 17 their analog broadcasts were cut. 12.4 million households were affected by the February 17 switch to digital broadcasts by 421 television stations. Of that 12.4 million, only 28 000 frustrated viewers called in during the 12 hours after the analog signals were turned off, or under 0.23%.
In a statement from the NAB:
“NAB’s initial survey of impacted markets found that stations received on average between 50-200 calls. Viewers primarily had questions about converter boxes and rescanning issues, and stations were able to resolve a vast majority of calls over the telephone.”
The constant moving of official transition dates has confused many viewers. Stations reported that most callers eventually accepted that they were to blame for not purchasing converter boxes sooner.
Manager Jeff Long of WHKY-TV in Hickory, N.C., said that although their switch to digital broadcasts went quite well, some viewers called in complaining that they thought the switch would occur on June 12, which is the current official changeover date after the House of Representatives approved further delays earlier this month. This delay occurred largely because the converter box coupon fund had reached its limit, and in order for more coupons to be given out, old ones had to expire first.
In the majority of heavily populated areas, at least one station will continue to broadcast analog television signals until June, or will simply broadcast important local news and information about the switch to digital television. Many stations have accepted to wait until the official changeover date of June 12 anyway.
Additionally, a number of stations that already broadcast digital TV are moving to different frequencies. Those who didn't wait for their sets to go blank and bought converter boxes or TVs with built-in digital tuners had to rescan for the new frequencies in order to continue viewing channels that they were able to access previously.