Three Markets Prepare for Analog Shutdown Tests

Television stations in at least three markets have agreed to temporarily shut down their analog transmitters in a dry run of the eventual real deal.

The Federal Communications Commission found its volunteers in Wilmington, N.C., where five stations agreed to power down the analog transmitters a noon on Sept. 8. The five include ABC affiliate WWAY-TV; WSFX-TV (Fox); WECT-TV (NBC); WILM-LP (CBS) and Trinity Broadcasting station W51CW.

Not to be outdone by Wilmington, a group of 11 stations in Florida decided to go analog-dark on June 25 at “7:59 p.m.,” according to a press release from the participants--WESH-TV (NBC); WKMG-TV (LATV); WFTV-TV (ABC); WCEU-TV (PBS); WKCF-TV (The CW); WMFE-TV (PBS); WVEN-TV (Univision); WRDQ-TV (RTN); WOTF-TV (TeleFutura); WTGL-TV (Good Life Broadcasting); and WBCC-TV (PBS).

The Florida stations will conduct three, one-minute tests simultaneously, after explaining it to viewers. For those households where the TV sets go dark, the stations will explain what’s necessary to continue getting a signal after the actual shutdown on Feb. 17, 2009.

“One of the biggest questions viewers have is ‘will this affect me?’ This test will answer that,” said Richard Monn, WESH/WKCF-TV chief engineer and spokesman for the group. “To the best of our knowledge, the marketwide test we’re proposing has not been utilized or attempted by any other alliance of broadcasters in the country.”

A similar test was conducted by a single station in Las Vegas, according to a report from Broadcasting and Cable. KVBC-TV, the NBC affiliate there simulated the analog shutdown during its daily newscasts May 2. Viewers were likewise told if they got a screen full of snow, they’d have to take action to maintain TV reception. The May 3 article indicated the station had only one inquiry following the simulations.