In Depth

Almost Half of Stations to Beat DTV Deadline

About 44% of the country’s TV stations aren’t going to wait for the national switch to digital television on June 12, instead dropping their analog broadcasting signals before the deadline.

Stations that wanted to switch before June 12 had to notify the Federal Communications Commission by today and the agency reported tonight that 158 additional stations have asked to switch early. Those 158 stations will join the 417 that switched on the original date of transition Feb. 17 and the 220 that switched earlier.

For TVWeek's comprehensive coverage of the digital television transition, visit the DTV Switch Navigator page.

The number represents a big chunk of stations—795 of the nation’s 1,722. But because TV stations owned and operated by the broadcast networks in major markets aren’t among those switching early, it’s still expected that the bulk of the nation’s viewers will see the switch take place June 12.

Most of the latest stations to announce plans to switch are educational or religious stations, according to the FCC’s list.

The national switch was delayed by Congress because of concerns voiced by the Obama administration that necessary elements weren’t in place both to provide discount converter box coupons to consumers and to deal with any problems that might develop.

After the delay, the administration and the FCC under acting chairman Michael Copps expanded distribution of coupons and provided more information about the changeover, as well as additional call centers and aid for consumers dealing with the changeover.

The FCC also altered its requirements for the messages that TV stations have to run before switching to require them to offer additional information about the possibility new antennas may be needed. The agency also required additional warnings that converter boxes may need to be rescanned for local channels as new channels switch over.

(Editor: Baumann)