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The DTV transition was mandated in the Telecommunications Act of 1996, but 13 years later, 2.8 million Americans were still not ready for the switch that happened today.
I had the opportunity to help answer phone calls with DTV questions on the Fox 8 News Call for Action phone bank yesterday and today, so I had firsthand experience with a few Cleveland area viewers who were not all set for the analog TV signals to go dark at 10:00 am today.
Although most Americans are ready for the transition, according to the FCC, there was an estimated 55,000 or more Cleveland area residents who weren’t. Most of their questions involved where to turn to as they had expired converter box coupons, having not bought their equipment yet. The answer, of course, was to call the 1-888-CALL-FCC hotline.
The other question that came up often was whether they really needed the converter box. I had a number of callers who believed that because the word “digital” appeared somewhere on the front of their TV, they were ready to go. In many cases, I found out that it was a “Dolby Digital” sticker on the set that was causing some of the confusion.
The cutoff came and went hours ago, and the world hasn’t ended. However, I really sympathize with anyone manning a DTV support phone bank in the US, as now the compatibility issues with faulty equipment, or VCRs that won’t automatically change the channels on converter boxes start to come up. Good luck, brave DTV soldiers!