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‘D-Day’ only Hours Away

Digital Day is finally here. Well, almost.

It’s been a very long time coming, and if the truth be known, many local stations began transitioning to all-digital operations months ago. So if the FCC, NAB and the industry itself have their way, June 12 will not come off with a bang but with the proverbial whimper. What first began in 1986 (arguably) as a quest by the NAB to bring analog HDTV to America will culminate more than two decades later with the ATSC DTV transmission standard of broadcasting.

The NAB said nearly 800 local stations have already terminated their analog services, and about a half-dozen more are expected to do so prior to Friday. But that still leaves more than 970 outlets left to pull the analog plug at various times of their own choosing on June 12. (On June 2, the FCC amended its own order and will allow a station to sign-off its analog operation anytime it desires within the 24-hour time frame of June 12, local time, without having to obtain prior commission approval.)

The NAB predicts the following switch-off schedule on Friday among remaining stations:
175 stations will switch-off by 6 a.m.
Another 200 will switch-off by noon
Another 152 will switch-off by 6 p.m.

The remainder (447) will switch-off by midnight

While the last-minute, four-month extension from the February deadline has greatly reduced the number of TV households still believed to be vulnerable to total loss-of-signal to under three-million dwellings (out of more than 114 million), the FCC’s national call center will include about 4,000 operators to answer consumer questions. The NAB projects the calls will peak sometime Monday, June 15. The call center will remain in operation at least through June 16.