DTV Switch Debuts In Hawaii To Mixed Reviews

Hawaii has an estimated 20,000 consumers with old analog TV sets.
As millions of Americans with old analog TV sets await the switchover to digital reception, they can look to Hawaii, which switched over to DTV on Thursday amid some problems, although none of them seemed too severe.

According to media reports, some consumers had trouble rigging their new converter boxes to their old analog sets so they could properly receive the new digital broadcasts, and others, who apparently never got any message on the DTV switch, called to ask why their TV sets weren't working. More problematic, though, were reports that some consumers can't get the digital broadcasts at all, making it necessary for them to purchase satellite or cable reception if they want to receive TV.

"Unfortunately for some people, reception is going to be a problem going forward," said John Fink, VP of KHNL/KFVE-TV, according to the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. "There are topographical and transmission issues that we just can't overcome." Similar problems of no reception at all are expected when the digital service is switched on in the continental states. Already consumers in parts of Maine have been told they won't be able to get the digital broadcasts.

Hawaii has an estimated 20,000 consumers with old analog TV sets, and the state moved to deploy DTV because analog towers had to be taken down in advance of the nesting season of an endangered bird, the dark-rumped petrel. The nationwide switchover is scheduled to take place Feb. 17, but it could be delayed to deal with a myriad of unexpected problems, including the lack of funding to supply enough converter boxes for consumers.

An FCC support center in Hawaii fielded hundreds of consumer calls, ranging from simple information calls to complaints of no reception. Support centers helped consumers hook up their converter boxes and, in some cases, offered to send specialists to people's homes to assist them.