DTV Switch: Not Bad

Rescanning boxes biggest problem

Phones were buzzing at the call centers servicing the stations that yanked analog signals last week, though most broadcasters said the fallout was manageable. Most of the calls found viewers trying to rescan their boxes to receive digital signals.

What broadcasters didn't hear much of were people who said they were taken by surprise by the switchoff. “There are complaints, yes, but it's much more, 'How do I hook up my box?'” said Pennsylvania Broadcasters Association Member Services Director Gail Ponti, “as opposed to people not knowing about [the turnoff].”

Antennas seemed to be the pressing issue at Media General's WJAR Providence. “We've been talking about the need for a good UHF antenna since November,” said WJAR VP/General Manager Lisa Churchville. “But while the message about the digital converter box was very clear, the antenna message was less powerful.”

Wisconsin Broadcasters Association President Michelle Vetterkind said the stations there decided to have calls put through straight to them, not to common call centers, so trained staffers could offer better local assistance right from the DMA. The strategy seemed to work. “There's been some frustration,” she said, “but very little anger.”