491 Stations Plan to Go Digital Feb. 17

Feb 10, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The Federal Communications Commission is reporting that 491 TV stations are seeking to go ahead with the digital TV changeover Feb. 17, despite congressional action pushing back the national changeover to June 12.
The switch includes some big-market stations, among them stations in Minneapolis, Memphis, Tenn., Pittsburgh, Reno, Nev., Phoenix, San Diego, Nashville, Tenn., San Francisco, Tulsa, Okla., and Baltimore.
For TVWeek’s comprehensive coverage of the digital television transition, visit the DTV Switch Navigator page.
The FCC said those 491 are in addition to the 190 stations that already have terminated their analog signal or will do so before Feb. 17.
The FCC notice today means that more than a third of the nation’s approximately 1,800 TV stations will switch early, which could rile critics of the early transition, among them President Barach Obama. However, there were no immediate comments Tuesday night.
A spokesman for Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said the senator is still hopeful that broadcasters “put the best interest of consumers first.”
President Obama requested the changeover delay because of concerns that viewers might lose TV signals and that the FCC hadn’t put enough resources in place to deal with potential problems. There also were concerns because the government’s program to provide coupons for converter boxes ran out of money.
Advertising groups, meanwhile, expressed concern about the potential loss of audience.
Nielsen reported a week ago that while 5.1% of households nationally were totally unprepared for DTV as of Feb. 1, some markets had far higher numbers either overall or in demographic groups within the market. The National Association of Broadcasters has suggested that Nielsen’s numbers are overstated, with households having unconnected converter boxes, listed as “totally unprepared.”
Nielsen listed Albuquerque as the market with the biggest share of unprepared households, with 12.7%, and said Tulsa was third worst, with 9.4% unprepared. It said that in Phoenix, where the overall rate was 6.4%, the unprepared rate among Hispanic households was 16.5%.
In Tulsa, five TV stations filed to switch early. In Phoenix, KTAZ, a Telemundo station, filed to switch early.
In its FCC filing KTAZ said it could broadcast either in analog or digital, but not both, and said it had been notifying its viewers for weeks that it was switching and that some would lose access to the station if the analog signal continued.
Stations had to notify the FCC by Monday of their plans for the Feb. 17 changeover. In announcing the results, the FCC today warned it could still step in to bar some stations from switching early.
“The commission has reserved the right to limit or reconsider the partial waiver of [its normal rules for notification] in the event that the commission determines that analog termination on Feb. 17 by a station or group of stations is contrary to the public interest,” the agency said.
Download the full list of stations converting to digital-only on or before Feb. 17 here.
(3:40 p.m.: Updated throughout)


  1. Note that WBGU-27.1, 27.2, 27.3, 27.4 are all missing from this list. They transitioned on 12/15/08, permanently shutting off their analog signals. Please make a note of that! DMA: Lima, Ohio

  2. Please note that WBKO transitioned to digital
    only in December. 13.1 ABC, 13.2 Fox, 13.3 CW.
    Bowling Green DMA.

  3. Funny how both are “Bowling Green” stations, but in separate states…
    However, due to WBGU’s TX location, half way from Findlay and Defiance Ohio… they consider that as Lima, Ohio Market.
    WBKO 13, is in KY, WBGU is in Ohio.

  4. From my personal reception attempts over the past 8 weeks, I don’t think near enough discussion and emphasis has been placed on the need for a decent, amplified antenna. All the attention has been on the acquisition of a converter box. But only in in-town, close-to-transmitter situations will rabbit ears hope to work — and over-the-air viewers are more likely to be in rural areas which are unserved by cable. In the best case, users of rabbit ears may only get a couple of channels, losing other signals they might have satisfactorily pulled in from analogue. With a good antenna ($ 65 to 120), a good in-line amplifier ($ 60 to 80), and a good converter box (they vary in receive sensitivity) I am able to receive stations as far away as 75 miles — if they are transmitting with sufficient power… and that’s the other “if.”

  5. “With a good antenna ($ 65 to 120), a good in-line amplifier ($ 60 to 80), and a good converter box (they vary in receive sensitivity) I am able to receive stations as far away as 75 miles — if they are transmitting with sufficient power… and that’s the other “if.””
    Denny, I clearly am with you on that. The main TV stations, within a full line of sight appears to be 60 miles north of me, in Detroit. I get all of the stations except Detoit’s Ion (really Ann Arbor, MI) and the Detroit ABC/RTN station. Somehow I am able to get WADL (Independent and religious on secondary), which is less in power and more north than most of the other towers, near Southfield, MI.
    As for antennas, I’ve been talking about it here for a while now. I also bring the issue up in my YouTube channel, if you look up “DTV reception issues” and “DTV, Wilmington vs. Toledo” You’ll see that even with the better antenna, it’s not as rosey as they portray. Watch and understand that I have been feeling that frustration for a couple of years now. Yerst little is done to assist my reception of local stations… not even by my local congresswoman (Kaptur) and the FCC.
    Also, other factor that HURT DTV reception… Snowing weather, raining weather and windy days. I also should note that Moving metal objects such as automobiles, busses, trucks, choppers, planes, etc., ALSO HURT DTV RECEPTION. So, it’s not just about buy, plug in, and watch. The antenna is only the first step of many… to diagnose the issues, which are not always on the consumer’s end.
    The Boxes and antennas are improved slightly… but the signal transmission hadn’t been touched.

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