For most viewers, the transition to digital TV amounted to a minor hiccup at most. But the industry estimated that 12 million homes had not installed the necessary converter boxes, putting them at risk of losing TV altogether, reports the New York Times. Across the country, television stations set up help lines and community organizations held events to aid confused viewers. Most stations didn’t receive the flood of calls they had expected, a sign that the transition was smoother than many had predicted. (Read "Schools mull digital TV’s implications")
Mike Burgess, the general manager of KOB in Albuquerque, said he had braced himself for calls when the station switched at 5 a.m. on Friday. According to Nielsen, Albuquerque had the highest rate of unprepared viewers of any market in the country. Acknowledging his surprise, he said the station had logged only three calls in the first digital hours. As of Saturday evening, the station had received about 150 calls.
Most American households now pay for television through a cable or satellite company. They were mostly unaffected by the switch, which will allow state-of-the-art wireless services and emergency communications to exist on the newly available analog spectrum space. But millions still watch free TV with an antenna, and they have borne the burden of the digital transition. While TV is primarily an entertainment medium, government officials are emphasizing its use in emergencies. Frank Michel, the communications director for the Houston mayor’s office, said TV access was vital for the coming hurricane season…
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