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421 TV Stations Pulling Analog Plug Today

Feb 17, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission said over the weekend that its final list shows 421 TV stations will switch over to digital-only signal by midnight tonight in the biggest switchover of the DTV transition.
The number is a slight increase from the last FCC figures. Originally 491 stations sought to switch to digital service today, but after the official switch date was moved from today to June 12, the FCC at first approved only 368. The agency expressed concern about 41 markets where having all of the major network commercial TV stations switch could leave viewers who are unready for digital TV without access to local news and emergency information.
For TVWeek’s comprehensive coverage of the digital television transition, visit the DTV Switch Navigator page.
The FCC asked stations in those markets either not to switch or to work together to ensure at least one local station continued to broadcast an analog signal. It indicated it would approve more local switches if a market’s stations worked out an agreement.
After reviewing the results, the FCC gave the OK for 421 stations to switch to digital today.
The stations are switching today despite Congress’ decision to move the national switch date to June 12. Congress acted at the request of the Obama administration due to concerns that the country wasn’t ready, the government programs weren’t in place to deal with problems and a program to offer coupons to offset the cost of converter boxes for analog sets had run out of money.
Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps, in a statement, said, “We are trying to make the best of a difficult situation.” He noted the FCC is closely watching 72 markets where one or more of the top four network affiliates is switching to digital today.
While most of the stations are switching tonight, some are switching early in the day.
Local newspaper Web sites already are reporting an upsurge of interest and comment on the transition.
In Tulsa, the Tulsa World’s Web site has 27 comments about local stations’ switch, with a number rapping television.
“The best thing they could do for all of America would be to turn television off completely. What is it now, about 50% commercials? We are all getting fat while watching complete garbage,” said a comment posted by QLC.
“Man can exist by watching ‘Law and Order’ reruns for just so long,” said a commenter calling himself Ignatz.
In Madison, Wis., the Wisconsin State Journal’s Web site had nine comments, most questioning why anyone is confused about what needs to be done.
“Seriously, if you haven’t figured this out yet, you’re probably not too big on the TV anyway,” said a comment from WI Import.

4 Comments

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