One factor that should be a big help to those manning the phones on July 12th is the fact that stations are staggering their switch to digital. Coupons can be swapped, and will be available until the end of July if supplies hold out. A US senator is asking agencies and broadcasters to lend a helping hand. And the FCC is offering consumers advice on antennae.
According to the NAB, 974 full-power stations will terminate analog service on June 12. 175 will switch between midnight and 6AM.; 200 will switch between 6AM and noon; 152 will switch between noon and 6PM; and 447 will switch between 6PM. and 11:59:59PM. This will be a boon to those trying to answer consumer questions, who will be spared a deluge of calls were every station required to pull the plug on anaolog concurrently.
NAB also notes that while it is impossible at this point to order a converter box coupon from the NTIA and have it in hand by Friday, it will be possible to use a borrowed or donated coupon, since once out of NTIAs hands, and if still active, they are redeemeable by anybody. However, NTIA will continue sending them out until 7/31/09.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) reminded his constituents about the upcoming transition, and also asked FCC, NTIA and NAB to do what they can to help consumers deal with it. (Note to Rocky: We think all three organizations are very much aware of the situation and plan to be right there on the front lines.)
The FCC offered consumers antenna advice over the weekend, describing what elements are needed for a good, useful set-top antenna, and advising that set-top options be explored before delving into the more challenging world of rooftop units.