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Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to conduct statewide DTV tests

Live tests of digital television are occurring across the country with increasing regularity as the industry nears the Feb. 17, 2009, analog shutoff deadline.

In a cooperative effort between Milwaukee television stations, Time Warner Cable, Charter Communications, DIRECTV, Dish Network and AT&T, 12 local stations in the Milwaukee, WI, market will unite to conduct the first DTV transition test on Sept. 15, 2008. The transition is designed to prepare viewers for the end of analog television.

During 5 p.m. programming the stations will each make special efforts to inform viewers of the DTV transition and help viewers determine if they are ready when stations go digital in February 2009.

At approximately 5:10 p.m., each of the stations will simulate the termination of analog broadcasting by removing the video signal that feeds the analog transmitter for 60 seconds, causing the screen to show simulated static with special instructions the viewer will need to know in order to receive a digital television broadcast signal in the future. For those viewers already viewing digital television broadcast signals, they will receive a graphic on their television screen informing them that they are DTV-ready.

Also during 5 p.m. programming, some stations will provide on-screen education on the DTV transition.

Each of the stations will direct viewers with questions to call a DTV Answers Hotline at a number to be announced during the 5 p.m. programming that evening. This special DTV Answers Hotline, sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association, will be staffed from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sept. 15 to aid Southeastern Wisconsin viewers with questions about the test and surviving the transition.

Later in the year, the Pennsylvania Association of Broadcasters, in association with the Pennsylvania Broadband Cable Association, will conduct a statewide DTV test on Nov. 17. Forty television stations in the state will conduct a 60-second analog shutdown at 6:25 p.m.

Participating stations will either cease operation on their analog transmitter, or broadcast a message that says, “if you see this message, you are not ready for February 17, 2009.” A phone number and Web site will be offered for additional information.