NTIA , FCC foresee digital conversion problems

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The National Telecommunications & Information Association (NTIA) is anticipating problems in the lead-up to digital conversion in February, according to Broadcasting & Cable magazine. NTIA says it may need up to $330 million more for its $40 DTV-to-analog converter box coupons, and reports there may be a shortfall of up to 2.5 million converter boxes. The FCC plans to spend about $10 million on call centers for questions and problems during the week of the DTV transition, estimating 350,000 calls per day Feb. 15-21. However, the FCC also says that would not be enough money or operators to handle the expected flood of calls. Even if it allocated all $20 million Congress recently gave it for the transition, it would not be enough, predicts FCC Chair Kevin Martin. Government and industry representatives, including President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, have been meeting with FCC reps to discuss the issues.