William Lake, the FCC's DTV transition coordinator, said Thursday that the FCC was committed to working over the weekend and over the coming weeks with broadcasters to help them deal with "any technical issues that may arise."
Those weeks could also stretch into months, and Lake said those technical issues could include major ones. "We know that many broadcasters will have to make changes," he said, "either to increase their power or some to move their transmitters."
He said the FCC would be there 24/7. Broadcasters will also be using new translators and transmitters to fill in coverage gaps.
"There will be disruption, but it won't be for our not trying," he said, adding that he wanted to give every American the choice of "enjoying over-the-air TV."
Lake also urged the press to continue to spread the word about the transition. "One of the obvious facts is that for a consumer who wakes up on Saturday morning to a blank, blue screen, will no longer see the message of how to get help," he said.
He did add that over 100 broadcasters would be providing a nightlight analog service of public safety and transition information. But he also said that the media could help to remind everyone who doesn't see a nightlight signal to call the FCC at 1-888-CALL-FCC, a number he repeated frequently at a press conference Thursday in Washington.
At least on Thursday afternoon, operators were indeed standing by. A call placed to the help line was answered by a live operator within 30 seconds--the FCC's target--after relatively easy negotiation of a computer-voiced options menu.
FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell has been particularly focused on making sure the FCC had enough operators (it will have 4,000 available) to handle the expected flood of calls.