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Mary Robinson is all about real-world information on the switch to digital television signals. The success of the DTV switch will depend on regular folks understanding new technology and getting it running in their homes. Ms. Robinson is weighing in on those nitty-gritty details, sharing her enthusiasm for TV-signal technology with those who are less technically inclined. She’s developed an expertise through years of hands-on experimentation, pulling in signals from the rooftop of her Texas home. Now she’s a resource for consumers struggling with the digital switch. We discovered Mary right here on TVWeek.com, where she reliably dispensed information in the comments section of this story, First Digital TV Converter Box Wins Government Approval about the digital switch. Let’s keep the conversation rolling!

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Hawaii's Switch Goes Smoothly as Rest of Country Awaits Date

January 19, 2009 10:42 AM

Hawaii transitioned to digital-only broadcasting statewide at noon local time on Jan. 15. There are at least 30 more days to go for the rest of the country.

A delay of the mandated Feb. 17 transition for the rest of us was defeated by the Republicans in the Senate on Saturday, but the matter will be brought up by the Democrats again next week, it has been reported.

From all accounts that I have seen, the switch in Hawaii went smoothly. There are only an estimated 20,000 TV households in Hawaii that are not connected to cable or satellite, so the number of affected viewers was relatively small, no matter if they were ready or not. That can be contrasted with the city of Houston, Texas, where almost 1 million people will be affected by the transition.

There was only one PBS station in the state that was not ready for the transition at the time of the switch. They had not yet received the equipment necessary to get the digital signal to their viewing area. That glitch is expected to last for a couple of months or so.

I have heard that some viewers in Maine have already been told that after the switch, they will not be able to receive over-the-air television and will have to get cable or satellite to continue having television.

If a bill is successfully passed to postpone the transition for the rest of the country, the expected date for the switch would be June 12.

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Comments (5)

Bob:

The test markets went smooth. Hawaii went smooth. We're ready. Stick with 2/17. Tell everyone to stop the scare tactics.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Bob,
I can see both sides of the dilemma. On the one hand, I am ready for the switch. I am ready for our locals to go to their final DTV channels and maximized effective radiated power, and that can't happen until the analogs are turned off. I am ready for the one station in our area that is going to revert back to a VHF channel to do so.
On the other hand, there are those, who for no fault of their own, have gotten boxes, and still can't get a digital signal. There are those who did procrastinate, and failed to apply for the coupons early, and are now on a waiting list. Yeah, I know, I was one who stood on the soapbox trying to get to word out not to wait until the last minute to start getting ready. But, to be fair, these people were under the impression that they still had at least six weeks left to go before they needed the converter box, and bam, no more money available. That should have never happened. That to me is the best argument to postpone the switch.
The best argument against it is that it is not fair to the television station owners to have to put it off. It is a tremendous financial burden to put this off any longer.
I am ready, willing, and able to make the switch, but I know that others are not, and I have to take that into consideration...

JD in the Quiet Corner:

I can certainly believe that about Maine. My uncle lives in Sommerset County about smack dab in the center of the state (~30 miles north of Waterville) and my father has acreage up there.

Cell reception is non-existant in the town; even Verizon "Can you hear me now? Yes!" calls it a 'dead spot.' Everyone we know there has either cable or sat. When we've been camping up there with the 13" tv, we were getting ~3 channels. Looking at tvfool, they really have to jack the signal to get any kind of coverage. For example, during the 'Today' show local break-ins, the stations had a simultaneous weather report, traffic, etc. synced with a radio station announcer. Their one and only 6 p.m. newscast (no 11 p.m.) looked about half as well-produced as some college broadcasting. Don't mean to look down my nose at them tho... the operating budgets for any station north of Portland have got to be razor-thin. Combine production limitations with some of the challenges of that terrain, and difficulties with the switch are not really surprising. But as I wrote, most everyone has cable or sat (and I'd say the rest prefer no teevee).

BTW - Looks like there will be a delay: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/01/23/AR2009012303608.html

My opinion, they're taking a situation that was a cluster---- and making it into 2x the cluster----.

JD in the Quiet Corner:

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hlGcM0ZxYV5dDtZR_9xfCPZnkFaAD95T4LV80

Delay in analog TV shutdown presents challenges

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the clock ticking toward the Feb. 17 deadline for TV broadcasters to shut off their analog signals and go entirely digital, analysts say more than 6.5 million households are not ready. Now Congress appears poised to postpone the transition to June — but a delay could bring its own problems.

mary... the cat lady:

I was told yesterday, and I am not positive about the accuracy of this statement, but it surely sounds plausable, that it costs somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-30 thousand dollars a month to operate a full power analog television transmitter. That is just for the electricity to run the transmitter.

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