TV Station Changes Conversion Course

(Feb. 23, 2009) HARRISONBURG,VA.: WHSV-TV, the ABC affiliate in Northern Virginia, returned to the air in analog despite the station’s original plan to go all-digital last Tuesday, The Daily News-Recordreports. Area lawmakers prevailed upon the Gray-owned TV station to reconsider its Feb. 17 shutdown, even though it continued running news and informational programming. WHSV restored full programming to its analog feed at 4 p.m. on Friday, and will continue broadcasting in analog through June 12.

“We made the initial decision to sign off because we felt the market was prepared,” WHSV General Manager Tracey Jones told local newspapers. “We also knew some people who would not be able to receive our digital signal would not be able to get it no matter when the switchover occurred. Out of all the calls we received this week, only three people said they couldn’t afford a converter box. Most of the calls were about the difficulty with getting our digital signal.”

The TV station serves areas in the Shenandoah where weak analog coverage equates loss of signal in digital. The station and local officials are considering translator projects to fill in the gaps.

Harrisonburg has nearly 93,000 TV households, according to Nielsen’s most recent count. Nearly 11,000 relied exclusively on over-the-air television as of last November.