Thursday, June 11, 2009

Expect 9-1-1 calls over digital TV transition

Prediction: Some irate Americans will call 911 to complain when they lose their television signals in the hard switchover from analog to digital television on Friday.
After all, in recent weeks, we’ve had people arrested for misusing the 911 emergency phone service for everything from complaining about poor fast-food restaurant service to needing help getting out of a locked car.
(See list of the “10 Dumbest 911 Calls.” Also see the article “911 dispatchers dealing with non-emergency calls,” which says at least 25% of 911 calls are for non-emergencies.)
Most recently a man in Hillsboro, Ore., called 911 to complain that McDonald’s left a juice box out of his drive-through order. (See article here.)
Then there was the case of a woman calling 911 to bitch about her roommate trying to take away her beer. (See article here.)
So it seems logical to me that idiots will call 911 when their TV screens go blank on Friday because they didn’t prepare for the transition over the last two-plus years.
My last DTV prediction was spot on.
In early February, as President Barack Obama was preparing to sign a bill extending the digital TV transition date from Feb. 17 to June 12, I predicted that many people still wouldn’t be ready after four-month extension.
On Feb. 5, I wrote, “Come June 12, there is likely to be a set of stubborn, lazy, ignorant or very poor people who still haven’t made the switch. I’m estimating 2% to 3% of U.S. households will not be ready by the new date.”
Measuring service Nielsen on Wednesday said that 2.8 million U.S. households, or 2.5%, are what it called “completely unready” for the transition to digital-only television. At the time of my prediction the percentage of unprepared households was 5.1%. Not bad, eh?

Photo: DTV transition poster by the National Association of Broadcasters as seen in a Metro station in the Washington, D.C., area.

1 comment: said...

another solution to the digital switchover, if it's an issue for anybody, is to watch TV on the internet