WASHINGTON (CN) – The new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Julius Genachowski, on Thursday declared the nation’s move to digital TV a success, at a relaxed FCC meeting. Commissioner Michael Copps said he could sum up the agency’s reaction to the switch having taken place. “Whew!” he said to laughter.
By June 12th, all television stations were broadcasting in DTV and the FCC received 317,000 calls, the most it has ever received in one day.
The switch gave viewers clearer pictures and sound, and added to channel capacity.
Even though most people were prepared for the switch, Robert Ratcliffe, the acting deputy chief to the media bureau, said that two dozen television stations are still having trouble broadcasting.
Commissioner Robert McDowell said that about 2 million households were not prepared for the switch, but that roughly half of them have been helped and no longer have a problem. “We’re in the midst of the long tail,” he said, referring to those who have still not switched.
“Mission not yet accomplished,” Chairman Genachowski chimed in.
Outreach Advisor for the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau Robert Goldblatt described his outreach efforts for the switch. “We were everywhere,” he said.
He listed soup kitchens, fairs, parks, and rural areas as places where outreach workers had gone to help seniors, minorities, low-income people, and the handicapped. “We didn’t just go for the food,” Goldblatt said to a dismal amount of chuckles.
But Copps abandoned the humor to put forward a broader message. “If any one asks whether the government can work quickly and efficiently, point them to DTV,” he said.
He also asked that a report be done on the successes and the failures of the switchover. “This transition is such a singular event,” he said, that the opportunity to learn from it should not slip by.
Apart from the sometimes knee slapping humor, the meeting saw its share of back scratching. Almost everyone began and ended their remarks by thanking others for their help in the project, applauding them, and making their team members stand up, and reporters eventually felt obliged to stop typing and clap.
“It wasn’t easy to be thrown into this in the seventh inning. I’ve been watching the nationals” Chairman Genachowski said in his thanks to Copps, who had come onto the project late.