The Time for Digital Conversion Is Here
On Friday, June 12, 2009, television will undergo its biggest transformation since the advent of color TV. All analog systems nationwide will be turned off; CBC stations will join the country in officially making the change to solely broadcasting only in digital.
What will the difference be? Not much if you watch cable or satellite, have a newer television set, or have a converter and antennae for your set. CBC’s stations, which include WRAL-TV in Raleigh, WRAZ-TV in Durham, WJZY-TV and WMYT-TV in Charlotte, and WILM in Wilmington, have been broadcasting in digital for quite some time.
Leading the Way
WRAL-TV became the nation’s first station to gather and present all its news in HD in December of 2001. And WILM is in the nation’s test market; Wilmington served as a guinea pig for the nationwide change, turning off their analog signal in September 2008.
The conversion has been a long time in the making. WRAL-TV added two new antennas, completely rebuilt the transmission system and did major structural work to the tower.
DTV Transition Help
“The Digital Transition truly means simply that our analog signal will be shut off,” explained WRAL-TV Vice President & General Manager Steve Hammel. “While this is a historic event, in practicality it will impact no more than 11% of our viewing audience. 89% of our audience views us via cable, satellite or digital TV’s already. So what we are doing is truly for an important—but small segment—of our viewing area.”
Preparing Our Viewers
For months all CBC stations have been airing crawls on the screen and public service announcements throughout the broadcast day. WRAL-TV newscasts have been peppered with stories about the conversion and all the stations have done monthly soft tests during all dayparts. And the stations have run half-hour specials to educate viewers on what to do to still see TV after the change.
“All indications are that it will be a seamless event for WJZY-TV and WMYT-TV,” said WJZY-TV & WMYT-TV Vice President & General Manager Will Davis. “The latest round of DTV transition ‘soft-tests’ indicate that most of our viewers are up to speed on the change. We are airing numerous public service announcements and covering the transition on our newscasts. We will also have digital transition telephone specialists on call all week and next to help answer specific questions from people who do have problems.”
WRAZ-TV (FOX 50) Vice President & General Manager Tommy Schecnk said much the same about CBC’s Durham station.
“We think most viewers are ready as evidenced by the lack of phone calls during our most recent (three) ‘soft tests’ on May 21st,” said Schecnk.
The Final Steps
“We have given away over 2,300 antennas to viewers who have requested them,” said Hammel. “I do not believe there is another Station in the country that has done as much as we have to educate, inform and prepare our viewers.”
For the past week, leading up to the conversion date of June 12th, WRAL-TV has amped up stories about the change and let our viewers know what the final preparations are.
“The biggest thing viewers (those receiving us off the air) will need to do is to re-scan their sets after we (and the other stations) switch off their analog signal,” explained Hammel.
Thanks to WRAL.com for this capcom graphic.