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FCC finally schedules a test for DTV transition

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 09 May 2008 11:09 User comments (13)

FCC finally schedules a test for DTV transition With the scheduled date for nearly all analog TV broadcasts in the US to be shut off just over the horizon, the FCC is finally getting around to some real world testing. Wilmington, North Carolina has been chosen for the tests, in part because all the local broadcasters already have digital signals available. On September 8 WWAY, WSFX, WECT, WILM-LP, and W51CW will turn off their analog signals, leaving only the digital signal available to viewers.
"The commission identified Wilmington as one of only a limited number of potential test markets because all the commercial stations in the market have already completed construction of their DTV channels and are operating at full post-transition power," said FCC chairman Kevin Martin. "The commission will use the test market as an opportunity to work very closely in advance with broadcasters, viewers, cable companies and others who will be affected to anticipate and address any problems."

Fellow FCC commissioner Michael Copps, who first suggested the idea last March said "This is very good news for the DTV transition. Real-world experience is an extremely important step -- although only one of many -- that will help minimize consumer disruption next February. Broadway shows open on the road to work out the kinks before opening night. The DTV transition deserves no less."

This sort of real world testing is clearly needed, but it's hard to figure out why it has taken so long. Just last year the FCC was criticized by the federal government's own oversight agency, the Government Accountability Office (GAO), for not having a plan or specific goals to ensure broadcasters and consumers are prepared for the transition. This February the FCC came under attack from engineers who say millions of viewers will have to install outdoor antennas to receive the same selection of channels digitally that are available now as analog broadcasts.

Assuming the engineers' real world tests that the FCC has previously deemed unnecessary are right, it's unclear what can be done in less than six months to address the issue. And what happens if we find out there are more problems that no one has anticipated?

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13 user comments

19.5.2008 14:25

Imagine if everything fails in the test? Is there enough time to make arrangements for plan B?

29.5.2008 14:25

Ooooppsss ... gee I forgot.... there is no plan B

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 09 May 2008 @ 14:27

39.5.2008 16:22

Glad I don't live in Wilmington.

49.5.2008 16:23

Originally posted by oscarin:
Ooooppsss ... gee I forgot.... there is no plan B
What are you talking about ? They don't even have a plan "A".

59.5.2008 21:49

Quote:
Originally posted by oscarin:
Ooooppsss ... gee I forgot.... there is no plan B
What are you talking about ? They don't even have a plan "A".

Now that's just ridiculous. Crossing your fingers and praying is a plan....

It's just a stupid one.

69.5.2008 21:54

@Vurbal, I stand corrected. They have a plan, I just wish it was a better plan.


"The flimsier the product,the higher the price"
Ferengi 82nd rule of aqusition


710.5.2008 0:45

@vurbal
Crossing your fingers and praying is what you do after too much prune juice and no facilities in sight!.....

Oh wait that's what this plan is isn't it?! Silly me!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 May 2008 @ 0:46

810.5.2008 14:54

I have cable and they can't decide whether to continue with the basic chanels in analog or switch to all digital. If they go to all digital then those people with analog TVs are screwed. The DTV converters the Government is pushing will not work with cable so the cable subscribers have to either rent (or buy) cable boxes for each TV they have or buy new digital TVs. Not good!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 10 May 2008 @ 14:55

910.5.2008 16:04

<TVs connected to cable, satellite, or other pay services do not require a TV converter box from this program to receive programs after February 17, 2009. Check with your cable or satellite provider to determine how they will support your analog set after February 17, 2009.>
From; https://www.dtv2009.gov/FAQ.aspx
I have two converter boxes for over the air broadcast and couldn't be more pleased! Using the Govt supplied ''coupons'' cost me $10 each. A MUCH better pic and electronic program guide. Channels available in HD I didn't know existed! And hey! The microwave in kitchen causes no interference in the signal like STV signal does! All this on RABBIT EARS! I am 15-20 miles max from broadcast stations. My worst channels before come in crystal clear! NO snow or lines!

1010.5.2008 21:21

Quote:
TVs connected to cable, satellite, or other pay services do not require a TV converter box from this program to receive programs after February 17, 2009. Check with your cable or satellite provider to determine how they will support your analog set after February 17, 2009. From; https://www.dtv2009.gov/FAQ.aspx
That's not entirely true. According to the FCC, it's up to the individual cable companies to determine what they want to do. They have two choices: 1) Continue sending analog signals along with digital signals, or 2) Send only the digital signals.

What that means is, IF the send analog then you won't notice the difference, but IF they go to digital only, then you need a cable box with the "cable card" for EVERY television you have hooked up to the cable. That will be very expensive if you have 4, 5 or even 6 TVs hooked up to cable.

1111.5.2008 15:47

<Check with your cable or satellite provider to determine how they will support your analog set after February 17, 2009.>
CALL them.

1211.5.2008 17:05

Quote:
Check with your cable or satellite provider to determine how they will support your analog set after February 17, 2009. CALL them.
I have called them. As I said in my first post on this subject, they haven't made up their minds yet. At least that's what they're telling the public. They have three years AFTER Feburary, 2009 to make things "permanent." They can change what they're doing any time up to that point. In other words, we don't know. The most likely scenario is the one that makes them more money, which is to drop the analog transmissions and sell or rent more cable boxes.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 11 May 2008 @ 17:06

1312.5.2008 16:55

Change your provider or byte the bullet. Vote with your wallet. If 5-6 TV's hooked up I doubt $$$ is an issue. Principles? Principles are bought and sold on the market.

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