Update: Thousands of complaints greet shift to digital TV broadcasts

07/24/2011
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With digital TV transition


TOKYO (majirox news) — Japan began broadcasts of digital TV on July 24, bringing to a close 58 years of analog television, but also ushering in tens of thousands of complaints, mainly from people unaware of how to make the shift, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications.

Digital TV broadcasting began in 44 of Japan’s 47 prefectures at noon on Sunday, rendering analog TVs obsolete in all but Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima prefectures, where the change has been delayed because of the effects of the March 11 disasters.

Nearly 100,000 calls were made to call centers the Ministry set up to deal with the changeover to digital TV, while an additional 30,000 phoned government-funded broadcaster NHK and a further 15,000 contacted similar hotlines created by private TV networks.

Most of the complaints came from people who only have analog TVs and wanted to know what they would need to do to be able to watch television again.

Communications Minister Yoshihiro Katayama said the number of calls was within the scope the government had forecast.

“We haven’t got 100% of homes working, but the government will continue responding in every possible way,” he said.

About 50 million households were affected by the shift of which some 100,000 are estimated to be without a TV capable of handling digital broadcasts. The vast majority of those homes without digital TV capability are comprised of elderly residents, according to the ministry.

TV, antenna sales soar as Japan enters digital TV age
TOKYO (majirox news) — Sales of digital TVs and antennas have soared as Japan begins digital TV broadcasting July 24 and closes the curtain on analog transmission.

Year-on-year TV sales are up almost double this month, and sold 2.5 times more units in June than in the same month last year, according to market research company BCN Inc.

Digisuppo, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communication’s telephone call center entrusted with helping the shift from analog to digital transmission, has been swamped with inquiries about the change that becomes effective from noon on Sunday.

“We’ve had a rapid increase in inquiries since the start of July,” a center official said. “Anxiety stands out among the elderly in particular.”

Center officials expect a rapid escalation of complaints once digital broadcasting commences and analog broadcasting ceases. Analog TVs will not display a picture once digital broadcasting begins.

Digisuppo has prepared for the changeover by employing a workforce of 25,000. It has set up consultation centers at about 1,600 municipalities across Japan and has about 20,000 people on standby to help provide technical support.

robert@majiroxnews.com

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