The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) issued a press release yesterday that said the vast majority of TV viewers in the Wilmington, N.C., digital TV test bed were aware of the transition and seemed prepared for it.

The results of the digital television switch in Wilmington shows that the collective efforts of the Commission, the community and industry to inform viewers of the early transition in this local market were effective,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said. “The vast majority of Wilmington-area viewers were aware of the transition, and more than 28,000 converter box coupons were redeemed. 

“While we believe that the transition in Wilmington is going smoothly, the measure of success in Wilmington is what is going to happen next February, and what we are able to learn from this experience and how we apply those lessons as we move this effort across the country.”

On Monday, 400,000 TV viewers in the five counties in the Wilmington TV market became the first to be switched over to all-digital signals. While the rest of the country will wait until Feb. 17 of next year, the FCC designated Wilmington as a test area for the digital TV transition.

According to published reports, including the Los Angeles Times, some Wilmington firefighters were called out on Monday to help TV viewers connect their digital converter boxes.

The FCC also provided “score sheets” for the first two days of the transition. Overall, the complaints went down from 797 on Monday to 424 on Tuesday.

On Monday, the largest category of complaints was “consumers complaining about not receiving Wilmington signals,” which racked up 232 complaints in regard to viewers having a problem with channel or call signs.

The second biggest category of complaints on Monday was “consumers who had reception and technical problems,” which checked in with 178 complaints, followed by “difficulty with converter boxes” registering 161.

On the second day, customers who complained about not getting local signals dropped to 124, while the converter box complaints went down to 107. The number of customers who complained about reception or technical problems fell to 57 on Tuesday.

The FCC said the early switch to digital in Wilmington is helping it identify, understand and resolve problems, such as those experienced by consumers calling the FCC helpline, and that it will ultimately better prepare the FCC for the national DTV transition next year.

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