NAB Pledges to Establish National Hotline for Digital TV Transition

December 16, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) today announced that it will create a national hotline to answer calls from consumers about the upcoming transition to digital television (DTV).

The toll-free national hotline will serve as an important resource for viewers seeking general information about the DTV transition or the Commerce Department's TV Converter Box Coupon Program. It will also provide additional resources for pay television service subscribers and consumers with technical questions related to converter boxes and installation.

Based on the results from the September 8 analog shut-off experiment in Wilmington, North Carolina, and the analog shut-off tests already conducted by more than 400 local television stations, NAB anticipates there will be approximately two million calls from viewers during the five days following February 17, roughly half of which would occur on February 18.

And with the recent passage of legislation to voluntarily extend analog broadcasting of DTV-related information for 30 days after February 17 where technically feasible, NAB has proposed broadcasting a brief DTV educational video that can replay on local television station analog broadcasts nationwide throughout the days after the transition. NAB will produce and distribute this program, which will address common questions received from viewers in the Wilmington experiment and other DTV readiness testing.

"Establishing a plan to respond to consumer questions about the DTV transition is another example of the broadcast industry's continuing leadership and unwavering commitment to help Americans prepare for the historic transition to digital television," said NAB President and CEO David K. Rehr. "Utilizing the airwaves, numerous grassroots and marketing initiatives and now a nationwide hotline, NAB and broadcasters are doing everything possible to ensure a smooth transition for all viewers across the nation."

The NAB hotline will supplement DTV hotlines sponsored by local television stations, state broadcast associations, pay television service providers, the Commerce Department's coupon program and the Federal Communications Commission.

The instructional video that is being developed by NAB will attempt to answer frequently asked viewer questions on such topics as converter box installation, rescanning, antenna positioning and general DTV transition questions, among other issues. At the end, the video will promote the toll-free national hotline number and regional numbers where applicable. NAB outlined these commitments in a letter to President-elect Barack Obama's transition team, which can be viewed here.

Multiple efforts to educate consumers are underway across the country as part of NAB's more than $1 billion DTV campaign to inform and help consumers prepare their homes for the transition. As required by law, all full-power television stations must transition from analog to exclusively digital broadcasting by February 17, 2009. Viewers who rely on antennas to watch free broadcast television must take the necessary steps to upgrade their television sets or risk losing reception after that date.