FCC Gets $10 Million More For Call Centers

Money will go towards ensuring it has enough operators to handle the phone banks

According to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke has approved almost $10 million in additional DTV funding for the FCC.

"Secretary Locke approved the transfer of funds to the FCC to support call center operations to ensure Americans receive the help they need with the digital transition," said Shannon Gilson, deputy director of public affairs.

The FCC asked for the money Tuesday to make sure it had enough operators manning the phone banks for the June 12 DTV transition date and beyond. An FCC staffer had said Wednesday that there was enough money to have the maximum 4,000 operators through June 16, but not afterwards.

Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps said at the FCC's DTV briefing Wednesday that he would rather be overprepared than under, and that it was important to have the additional funding, saying that didn't mean the FCC would spend all of it if it didn't need to.

Commissioner Robert McDowell had also made a plea for the funds, saying the call center was the most-effective DTV outreach out there.

An NTIA representative at the morning FCC hearing had said she didn't expect there would be a problem getting the money, but had no news of the status of the request.

NTIA got $90 million in the stimulus package for DTV outreach and education, which it was empowered to turn over to the FCC. It had already given the commission $65 million, but kept back the other $25 million in case it needed it for DTV-to-analog converter box coupons.