At an open meeting and hearing conducted yesterday at the FCC, acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps compared the current state of the digital television (DTV) transition to this month’s NCAA basketball tournament, observing: “we might have survived the first round game, but the games are only going to get tougher.” Witnesses from the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the broadcast, cable and consumer electronics industries offered their assessments on last month’s initial round of analog signal cut-offs and on the steps needed to minimize technical glitches and consumer confusion as the remaining two-thirds of the nation’s TV stations switch their signals on or before June 12. In the wake of the first round of analog shut-offs last month, Copps and a spokesman for the National Association of Broadcasters urged additional training of the agency’s call center staff to address the larger wave of conversions to come as most calls to date have centered upon antenna positioning, converter box rescanning, and other technical issues. While the FCC received only one-fourth of the number of calls it estimated in the days following the original February 17 transition date, FCC chief information officer Andrew Martin said that figure could be deceptive when modeling projections of call volume for June as the stations that shut-off analog service last month represent only 15% of the viewing population. As such, Martin told Copps that the FCC should expect anywhere from 500,000 to three million calls in the days following the final June 12 transition date. With respect to the NTIA converter box coupon program that was halted in January, NTIA administrator Bernadette McGuire Rivera confirmed that the NTIA resumed coupon distribution this week after receiving $600 million in stimulus funding which should enable the agency to clean up its backlog of wait-listed coupon requests within three weeks. As McGuire-Rivera added that, “our theme for these last days is search and rescue,” Copps cited statistics showing that nearly five million U.S. households remain “totally unready” for the DTV transition.