Las Vegas station tests viewers’ readiness for DTV transition

KVBC-TV, the NBC affiliate ion Las Vegas, NV, ran a simulated analog shutoff recently to test viewers’ awareness of the Feb. 17, 2009, deadline by showing them what no reception looks like. The educational effort was the brainchild of the station’s general manager Lisa Howfield, who was praised by two FCC commissioners for the “gutsy” idea.

On May 2, for a few moments during each of its seven daily newscasts, the station stopped broadcasting its normal programming and instead ran a brief clip of simulated static. Overlaid on the fuzzy screen was a graphic telling viewers to call 888-DTV-2009 or visit online.

The simulated blackouts, which included footage of an actual cable being pulled, began with the 5 a.m. newscast. KVBC anchors explained to viewers that those who could still see them after they “pulled the plug” have nothing to worry about come February 2009 — those who got only white snow, however, need to act now to make their sets DTV-ready.

The station also explained that while the transition won't affect viewers who watch KVBC through cable, since the station already provides both analog and HD feeds via fiber to local operators, it will disrupt service for over-the-air viewers who don’t buy a digital-to-analog converter box or a new digital set.