NAB Unconvinced on Wilmington DTV Test

The National Association of Broadcasters is concerned about some potential hiccups in the Wilmington, N.C., test market triumphantly announced last week by the FCC.

In particular, NAB notes that the CBS affiliate in the market, WILM, is a low-power station with its digital transmission facilities not yet operating. NAB notes that viewers who buy digital-to-analog converter boxes before WILM goes digital will be blocked from getting this signal—unless they use the hard-to-find boxes with the analog pass-through feature.

The early (nearly complete) analog shutoff for Wilmington is set for noon on Labor Day, Sept. 8.

“We would urge the [National Telecommunications and Information Administration] to coordinate with the FCC and retailers to ensure that converter boxes with the analog pass-through feature be made available as soon as possible in that market,” NAB President David K. Rehr wrote in a letter to Acting Administrator Meredith Attwell Baker. “Boxes without the analog pass-through feature may inconvenience and confuse viewers who attempt to watch programming on a channel that may be broadcasting exclusively in analog throughout the summer.”

NAB also said NTIA is currently processing through a “backlog” of coupons, and urged Wilmington viewers to have “immediate, priority access to coupons.”

According to the NTIA, more than 1.5 million coupons have been redeemed. NTIA has received more than 13 million applications, with coupons set for mailing generally within about a month.