Tuesday, February 17, 2009, was to be the date analog signals across the U.S. went dark as all the nation’s television stations completed their conversion to digital. However, a change in the deadline from the Federal government means that some stations went ahead with the shift while others, including all of Capitol Broadcasting Company’s television stations except WILM, are waiting until the new deadline of June 12th.
WILM is part of the national test market in Wilmington, NC. The stations in the coastal city turned off their analog signals in September 2008, converting completely to digital as part of a test with the Federal Communications Commission.
The Federal government changed the February date because an estimated 6.5 million households are not ready for the conversion.
“If WRAL had switched today, some of you would not be able to see us right now,” said WRAL-TV Senior Executive Producer Monica Laliberte during her 5 On Your Side segment on the evening news on Feb 17th.
“None of the major affiliates here are switching until June 12,” said WJZY/WMYT Vice President & General Manager Will Davis of Charlotte. “We want to give viewers as much time as possible to prepare for the transition.”
CBC and WRAL-TV have been a leader in the digital transition, becoming the nation’s first station to gather and present all its news in HD in December of 2001. And now we have made the decision to wait to turn the analog signal off when most people are ready.
“WRAL-TV has done one of the best education campaigns in the country letting our viewers know about the DTV transition,” said WRAL-TV Vice President & General Manager Steve Hammel. “It was (and is) textbook. Having said that, one of the reasons the government pushed for the delay is the current lack of availability for converter box coupons. As a result, an important segment of our viewers would not have been able to receive us had we turned off our analog signal. The funding for the coupons and the availability of the converter boxes should be sufficient by the June 12th deadline.”
Thanks to WRAL.com for this capcom graphic.