Transition Running Smoothly So Far for Fort Myers’ WINK

Feb 17, 2009  •  Post A Comment

About an hour into its digital-only life, Fort Myers, Fla., CBS station WINK-TV had received only half a dozen phone calls from viewers about the digital switch today. However, the broadcaster is bracing for more calls during primetime tonight.
Fort Myers Broadcasting-owned WINK was one of about 400 stations to shed its analog signal forever today when it transitioned to digital at 12:14 p.m. ET during the station’s noon newscast.
“It went surprisingly well,” said Greg Stetson, programming director for the station. “The phone calls are equipment-related, people asking, ‘How can you help us tune in our converter box?’”
Mr. Stetson said he hasn’t received any calls yet from viewers who weren’t aware of the transition. That’s reassuring, because it indicates the success of the full-court press the station, the market and the Federal Communications Commission conducted over the last few years and weeks to get the message out.
However, Mr. Stetson is bracing for more calls this evening when the station runs its high-rated Tuesday night primetime lineup, anchored by “NCIS” and “Without a Trace.”
“We don’t know what will happen when people come home to watch ‘Oprah’ or primetime. Tuesday night is one of our biggest nights,” he said. “We are going to have the real test tonight.”
The station is relying on regular staffers, including the promotions director, the production manager and the station’s engineers, to field calls and help viewers.
When viewers call with equipment problems, the key is to walk them through the specifics of their make and model or direct them to how to obtain a digital converter box, Mr. Stetson said.
Fort Myers was well positioned for the switchover, with only about 5% of the market relying solely on over-the-air broadcasts. Mr. Stetson estimates the stations in Fort Myers have reached most of those consumers with information about the changeover.
But as with any new technology, he cautioned, there will be holdouts. “In any situation you won’t have 100% participation when something new starts. It will take a little while for everyone to get on the same page,” he said.
He said the station did not lose any signal coverage during the switch. “Our digital signal is the same as our analog for distance and power,” he said.


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