Mini-DTV transition largely uneventful


We were wondering what was going through the mind of a CQ headline writer who wrote “Digital Television Switch Confusion Clogs Regulators’ Phones.” The Capitol Hill organ was referring to the same 28K phone calls the FCC said it was able to pounce on with almost zero consumer on-hold time. The simple fact is that the 400+ stations that joined another 200+ in the digital-only world caused little disruption to US televiewing habits, with most stations able to handle relatively light phone queries and with the FCC system more than up to the task.

NAB estimated that there were 12.4M over-air-only households in the markets most heavily affected by the semi-mass analog unplugging exercise. According to most reports, the average phone query led to the satisfactory result of running a converter box scan to pick up digital signals.

“These findings from local stations, coupled with the FCC data, paint the picture that by and large TV households affected in those markets were ready,” said Jonathan Collegio, NAB vice president for the digital television transition. “Given the large number of broadcast-only households affected during yesterday’s transition, a relatively small percentage of viewers so far have needed assistance.”

RBR/TVBR observation: What is clearly lacking is a single train wreck market. Granted that the markets that did a mass early switch did so precisely because they thought they could pull it off (and no television station wants to lose a single viewer right now). But this bodes well for the big switchover in June, especially with the extra four months the rest of the industry has to get its act together.