Adelstein Praises Broadcasters For Complying With DTV Date Change

Also pleased with cable operators help with call centers

FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein was full of praise for broacasters' efforts to turn on the proverbial dime when it came to complying with the change in the DTV transition date.

In an interview for C-SPAN's Communicators series, Adelstein said the FCC "worked together very well with the broadcasters. They did an outstanding job of stepping up to the plate on fairly short notice," he said.

He also said the FCC needed to rely on broadcasters during the switch. "They understand their markets, they care about their viewers."

That was seconded by Mike Lee, general manager of KXXV, the ABC affiliate in Waco, Tex. His market was one of the DTV-at risk markets where stations that wanted to go on Feb. 17 had to make sure at least one affiliate stayed on the air with an enhanced ananlog nightlight service with news and public affairs.

Lee said that the stations in the market "laid down their competitive arms" and got together to plan the switch. He said at one point he had all four network affiliate GM's in his conference room. The NBC affiliate volunteered to be the nightlight station, with the stations agreeing to split the cost of the electricity.

They also collected PSA's and educational material from all the stations to put on the enhanced nightlight signal, which must also include DTV education material.

Lee said his biggest advice to stations making the switch was to cooperate with others in their market. His advice for the FCC? "Listen to the stations and take their advice. Most of use really want to serve our viewers and and don't want them to be without a signal.... If a station decides to go off in the next tier, I'm sure they probably are."

Adelstein also praised cable operators for their help with the call center, which managed to handle the lighter-than-expected call volume with room to spare. "The cable industry stepped up and provided some additional capacity that helped to take the burden of calls," he said, adding that they could have handled even more.

The Obama transition team approached the cable industry early on for help with the call centers given cable's experience in that area. That should not have been a big surprise since a key transition telecom advisor, and one of the authors of the suggestion to move the hard date, was former NCTA chief Tom Wheeler.