The University of Texas-Pan American has been designated a regional call center by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to assist the local television stations in responding to resident's phone calls starting June 12 when all television stations across the country begin broadcasting in a digital signal.
"Having a local call center is absolutely wonderful. I wish every community in America was willing and able to do that," McDowell said. "Having that kind of commitment to step right up and help the community is exactly what is needed."
With June 12 as the final deadline for terminating analog broadcasts under legislation, McDowell is traveling to cities across the country encouraging the development of call centers. When the switch occurs, the FCC and local television stations want to assist those who have not converted, the UTPA call center will be utilized.
"UTPA has agreed to provide volunteers, including students, to man the call center," said Dr. John Edwards, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services. "We are delighted to help in this transition process as part of our giving back to the community."
John Kittleman, general manager of KRGV-TV, said that an estimated 40,000 households in the Rio Grande Valley have not yet made the transition into digital television.
"We are very appreciative of UTPA stepping up and helping us out," Kittleman said. "This is a very critical step and the FCC has strongly encouraged the creation of these local call centers."
Approximately 20 volunteers, most of whom will be bilingual, will staff the call center equipped with Voice over Internet Protocol phones from June 12-16 to assist the community with the transition. Area television stations and UTPA will be providing the volunteers to operate the call center.
"Only you know all of the challenges here, so having well-trained operators at the other end of the phone who are home-grown operators and understand the details of the local population is absolutely critical," McDowell said. For more information about the digital transition, contact local television stations or visit www.fcc.gov