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11.18.2003
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
APTS to examine setting a date for ceasing analog transmission

Citing significant savings to member stations and benefits to the government, consumers and the economy, the Association of Public Television Stations has announced it will begin to study the circumstances required for its members to accept a date certain to cease analog broadcast operations.

Under the right circumstances, converting to digital-only transmission would benefit association members in a number of ways, said APTS president and CEO John Lawson.

“For example, ASO (analog switch off) would save our stations $36 million a year in the electricity costs we currently incur on analog transmission," he said. “Above all, embracing ASO would allow public television to focus all of our energy and resources on the future, not on a dying analog distribution system.”

Before any analog switch off can occur the rules must be in place to guarantee public broadcasters that all of their digital signals will be carried by cable operators and direct satellite broadcasters. Additionally, the APTS would need to enlist the support of other parties, such as commercial broadcasters, DTV vendors, consumer electronics manufacturers and the PC industry, Lawson said.

Pointing to the success Berliners enjoyed in the switch-over from analog to digital-only transmission earlier in the year, Lawson said the availability of affordable digital-to-analog set-top converter boxes would be critical to maintaining free, over-the-air television. "They (Berlin) transitioned 160,000 over-the-air households in 18 months, mainly by marketing set-tops to them," he said.

Last summer, APTS polled its members online about establishing a date certain for an analog switch off. Of the APTS stations that participated in the survey, 88 percent said they favored setting a firm date in return for policy concessions.

Currently, the APTS Board of Trustees has made no decision regarding a hard date for an analog switch off. The association is simply beginning a period of exploration into the legislative, regulatory and consumer issues that must be addressed before a date is set.

For more information, please visit: www.apts.org.

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