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Hawaii's Early Digital Transition Is for the Birds

Environmental concerns unique to the Hawaiian Islands are prompting area broadcasters to shut down their full-power analog signals and go all digital a month prior to the Feb. 17 full-power analog shutdown deadline.

At issue are the analog broadcast facilities on the island of Maui, which are also the breeding grounds of the endangered Hawaiian petrel. Full power broadcasters in Hawai'i County, Maui County and the City and County of Honolulu were advised by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to tear down their analog facilities before the petrel breeding season in February. Otherwise, as one Hawaiian broadcaster noted, stations would have to wait another year before they could do so. The full-power analog shutdown in Hawaii is scheduled for noon on Jan. 15.

Kaua'i County is served by low-power translators and will not make the transition on that date.

"Hawai'i's early transition was prompted by consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service where they recommended that Hawai'i broadcasters deconstruct their present Maui analog facilities prior to mid-February to avoid the Hawaiian petrel breeding season in that area," said Mike Rosenberg, president and GM of KITV.

"The early transition to DTV has the support and attention of Senator Daniel Inouye, chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, the Federal Communications Commission, the National Association of Broadcasters, the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters and its member stations in a focused effort to educate the public about the transition," said Chris Leonard, president of the Hawaii Association of Broadcasters. "It will also serve as a model for the rest of nation as they make their transition in February."