Wilmington, NC, broadcasters to make DTV transition in September

Commercial full-power TV broadcasters in Wilmington, NC, will turn off their analog transmitters for good and solely transmit DTV at noon on Sept. 8, 2008, more than five months before the digital television transition nationally, the FCC announced last week.

The early analog shutoff will be done with the commission’s blessing because the Wilmington TV market will serve as the first in the nation to test the DTV transition in advance of the Feb. 17, 2009, digital television transmission.

Stations participating in the test include: WWAY (ABC), WSFX-TV (FOX), WECT (NBC), WILM-LP (CBS) and W51CW (Trinity Broadcasting). After shutting off their analog service, the stations will only transmit DTV signals to their viewers in the five North Carolina counties that make up the market. WUNJ, the public broadcaster in Wilmington, will continue broadcasting in both analog and digital. A low-power station will continue transmitting in analog.

This test market gives broadcasters and consumers a chance to experience digital television in advance of the upcoming DTV transition. The commission will work with officials and groups in the local community to accelerate consumer education efforts to prepare residents for the early transition.

In March, FCC Commissioner Michael Copps called on FCC Chairman Kevin Martin to set up DTV tests in select markets to identify potential complications that could be addressed before the entire nation makes the switch in 2009. The FCC chose Wilmington for the test because it is one of the few stations in the nation where all commercial broadcasters are ready for the transition, the commission said.

For more information, visit www.fcc.gov.