FCC Launches Web Page for Hawaii’s Early Transition

The full-power analog signals of Hawaii’s broadcasters will shut off at noon on Jan. 15, 2009—about a month before the rest of the nation’s transition on midnight Feb. 17.

The FCC said Tuesday it has set up a Web site regarding the Hawaii transition. Most of the site, www.dtv.gov/Hawaii/index.html, appears to be simply the same generic DTV Web site for the rest of the country, with the Hawaii transition date in parentheses after every mention of the Feb. 17 nationwide transition date.

But if you dig into the FAQs on the page, it does mention that DTV is now available on Oahu and in Hilo and is coming to Maui, and that Kauai is served by Low-Power TV, which is not immediately switching to digital. The site also provides a Hawaii phone number and a dedicated e-mail address for consumer questions.

The Hawaii Web page also includes a link to the press release announcing the Web page.

“This Web site is designed to give Hawaiians easy access to the knowledge they need for the first statewide shift to digital broadcasting in the nation,” FCC Chairman Kevin Martin says in the release. “We’ve included information for consumers about events in their area, how to contact local FCC staff members for help, and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the transition.”

The site explains that the early analog shutoff date is due to the nesting schedule of the threatened Hawaiian petrel on the island of Maui. It nests, starting in March, upon Haleakala, the mountain where analog transmitters on Maui are now located. Broadcasters need to make the change to digital (and relocation to another nearby site) early, so they can move gear before the petrels arrive. Local broadcasters decided that if Maui had to make the DTV transition early, the rest of the state should as well to prevent consumer confusion.