WSAZ goes digital

Published 10:07 am Monday, February 16, 2009

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Delay or not delay, that is the question that TV viewers will have to ask themselves to determine exactly what the digital conversion means to them since local TV stations are split on the change.

While most of the country’s 1,796 full-power TV stations accepted an extension of analog transmissions until June 12 voted through by Congress and signed into law last week, 491 applied to keep the original cutoff date.

An intervention by the Federal Communications Commission late last week resulted in 43 stations delaying their cutoffs from Feb. 17 until June.

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But, locally, the issue is a little more complicated.

WOWK, a CBS-affiliate, has already stopped broadcasting analog programming because of an equipment problem from the recent storms.

WSAZ will turn off its analog transmitter one day sooner than expected due to a mandate from the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC notified WSAZ about the change Saturday afternoon. The station was expecting to make the transition at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, but will now make the transition at 11:59 p.m. tonight.

WCHS and WVAH have both agree to continue broadcasting analog until June.

All the local stations have been broadcasting simultaneously in analog and digital for at least a year.

The Nielsen Co. estimates that more than 6.5 million households that rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air broadcast signals still are not ready. People who subscribe to cable or satellite TV or have a newer TV with a digital tuner will not be affected.

Viewers who watch television on an analog TV with rabbit ears or a rooftop antenna, can continue to receive the station by using a digital-to-analog converter box, subscribing to cable or satellite service, or buying a TV with a digital tuner.

For more information concerning the DTV transition, converter boxes, and how you can continue to receive the station, call 1-877-388-5473. This number is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week by people who can answer any questions on this.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.