Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael Copps said in a letter to FCC Chairman Kevin Martin that based on the results of the digital transition trial in Wilmington, N.C., there’s more work that needs to be done before analog signals cease on Feb. 17.
Copps said in his letter, dated Friday, that based on the Wilmington trials that started last Monday, consumers need better help to understand the specific problems they’ll encounter once the switch is made to digital. Some of those issues include connecting the converter boxes and antenna, and other reception problems.
Those who were adversely affected in the five-county Wilmington test area sought individual assistance from the FCC and others, Copps wrote. (According to several media reports, firefighters in the area were called out to help connect the converter boxes.)
“As you know, I have long been concerned about the pace of preparation for the transition. Those concerns persist,” Copps wrote. “The purpose of this letter, however, is not to look back at what might have been done differently, but to share with you in more detail some ideas we have discussed concerning what we should do now, in the time we have left, and to offer some additional suggestions.”
Copps submitted proposals to help prevent a large-scale disruption when the transition takes place next year:
- Conduct additional field testing
- Dedicate a special FCC team to the needs of at-risk communities
- Ramp up the FCC Call Center
- Prepare comprehensive DTV contingency plans
- Create an online DTV Consumer Forum
- Educate consumers on DTV trouble-shooting, including antenna issues and the need to “re-scan” converter boxes and sets
- Ensure that broadcasters meet their construction deadlines
- Encourage the rapid deployment of small, battery-powered DTV sets
- Find a way to broadcast an analog message to consumers following the transition
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