Initial Reports Indicate Low Call Volume Following Feb 17 Digital TV Switch

February 18, 2009

WASHINGTON, DC — Local broadcasters in many television markets have experienced relatively low call volume in the 12 hours following yesterday's wave of stations that went all-digital, according to an initial survey by the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB).

These findings support data released by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding calls received yesterday by the agency. Of the estimated 12.4 million exclusively over-the-air TV households that were impacted yesterday when 421 stations switched to digital, the FCC reported only 28,000 viewer calls – an incredibly small percentage of those affected. While call volume has generally been low, there were some hotspots that received more calls due to unique market situations.

"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."

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 following are examples of the switch's impact in specific markets:

  • After switching mid-day yesterday, three stations in Madison, Wis., received about 400 total calls, mostly from viewers requesting help with antennas or converter boxes. Many viewers were mistakenly watching analog on their high definition sets.
  • In Harrisburg, Penn., WITF-TV and WLYH-TV turned off their analog signals before noon yesterday and received a total of 79 viewer calls.
  • KTKA-TV and WIBW-TV in Topeka, Kan., took 311 viewer calls combined after switching yesterday with rescanning being the main issue.