Sunday, January 18, 2009

In Hawai'i, Transition Goes Off On Schedule

I haven't been giving the Hawai'i early (Jan 15th) transition the kind of extensive coverage I gave to Wilmington, N.C., mostly because the local media refused to treat it as anything that was very important (and there seemed to be little of the FCC handholding that was evident in Wilmington). Along the way, we found out that the early date was unconnected to any wish to be a pioneer, but rather due to the need to avoid conflict between the demolition of the analog towers and the nesting season of an endangered local bird species.

This no-big-deal approach seems to be in force even after the fact. Just a couple of days after the transition, this story from the Honolulu Star-Bulletin is not linked from either from the site's front page, or even from the front page of the Business section where it appeared (I had to use site search to find it). Both the article and this video from station KITV describe a fairly smooth process (the FCC call-center workers interviewed in the video reported fewer calls than expected). Most of the calls appear to concern problems with installation and use of converter boxes rather than a lack of awareness of the transition itself. But not everything was roses - one of the comments left on the newspaper article was from a reader who was unable to get any digital channels with her converter and who was now "resigned to watching movies and getting news from the computer". Still, there seems to be no sign of public outcry over missing channels.

With the current uncertainties concerning the overall transition, the Hawai'ian experience will surely receive a lot of scrutiny in Washington. Whether they draw more lessons from the lack of outcry or from the experiences of people like the one who left the comment I just quoted remains to be seen.

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