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The Wilmington Analog Shutdown

This week, the shut down of analog TV in Wilmington, N.C., has been in the news. After sorting through the numerous articles, press releases and speeches, I found the WECT NBC6 Web page the most useful resource for broadcasters facing the Feb. 17, 2009, full-power analog shutdown. It links to the Elon University DTV Blog with comments from viewers and pictures from some of the analog shutdown events. Engineers at other stations will find WECT's The Big Switch Web page useful. It links to a Guide to Viewing DTV and includes information on the converter box program and maximizing antenna reception.

The FCC released an Overview of DTV calls categorizing calls received Sept. 9, the day after the transition, on the FCC's DTV Transition toll-free hotline. Out of 424 calls, 42 involved callers whose antenna didn't work, didn't have an antenna, or hadn't connected their antenna. This indicates consumers need to be educated about the antennas they will need for DTV.

Two callers reported a weak or spotty signal, but 124 complained about not being able to receive the Wilmington signals. An additional 78 callers said their converter box didn't work. To put these numbers in perspective, the FCC estimated 14,000 Wilmington area residents receive off-air TV.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.