UPDATE: Hawaii DTV: 'No Major Surprises' During Evening Rush - Broadcasting & Cable

UPDATE: Hawaii DTV: 'No Major Surprises' During Evening Rush

Around 500 calls from viewers affected by analog shutoff
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Updated 10:50 PM ET January 15, 2009

Hawaii's DTV call centers were not yet overwhelmed at 5:30 p.m. Thursday evening, an encouraging sign for broadcasters there on the day the state switched off analog signals.

The shutoff happened at noon, but broadcasters were anticipating the highest number of calls from affected viewers after they returned home from the workday and switched on the TV.

"It's going OK," says Hawaii Association of Broadcasters President Chris Leonard at 5:30 local time. "There've been no major surprises."

Two call centers are set up to handle up to ten calls. Leonard says they received around 500 calls by 5:30 p.m., about 200 of those prior to the noon shutoff. Some areas are reporting signal troubles, leading to a high concentration of calls from those regions, while other areas thought to be problematic seem to be handling the transition smoothly.

"The call volume is steady, but not overwhelming," Leonard says. "It doesn't seem to have jumped up significantly [by the end of the typical workday]."

KITV President/General Manager Michael Rosenberg, who's also the Hawaii DTV Coordinator, said KITV had not received a single call in the 45 minutes following the switch. "I don't want to jinx anything, but so far so good," he said earlier today. "The technical transition went fine, I think."

Environmental concerns regarding an analog facility on Maui and the petrel bird species prompted Hawaii to switch to digital television in advance of the nation's Feb. 17 transition, and the bird's breeding season.

Leonard says the association handled as many as 900 calls in the week leading up to the analog shutoff, clearing up what he hopes were the bulk of the problems among viewers. A series of statewide community events over the next 10 days will further clarify issues among the public.

The state benefited from the early switch, he adds, as it meant extra attention from the FCC. "It turned out to be a blessing in disguise," says Leonard. "It's an awful lot of work, but it's been OK."

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