WNVT-TV gains approval for “digital-only” service

Independent public broadcaster WNVT-TV has been granted permission from the FCC to cease analog broadcasting and begin digital-only operation. The station, which will vacate its analog spectrum on November 1, 2003, is the first public station nationwide to have received such permission.

After relinquishing its NTSC license for Channel 53, WNVT will operate under its new digital status as WNVT-DT on DTV Channel 30.

Special allowance from the FCC was originally sought in July due to the high cost of operating both analog and digital facilities. Dave Hurd, chief engineer at WNVT-TV, said by operating as a digital-only station, WNVT would save not only on operational costs, but construction costs as well.

In preparation for its digital transition, several projects as installing a combined antenna and strengthening the WNVT tower would have been required. By ceasing analog operations, the station can now appropriate more of its resources toward the digital conversion, the company said, in addition to maintaining its unique blend of original and multicultural programming.

The impact on WNVT’s over-the-air viewership will be nominal, according to MHz Networks (parent to WNVT), as most of its viewers currently watch satellite or cable television. Frederick Thomas, Executive Vice President and General Manager at MHz Networks, said “Digital broadcasting provides viewers with free, digital-quality TV--it's a well-kept secret, but won't be for long.”

First established in 1972, WNVT currently showcases Russian World TV, which airs seven days a week and includes Russian movies of all genres, documentaries, news and educational shows. WNVT's sister station, WNVC-TV (MHz), also delivers international programming, in addition to original productions including the Emmy-winning concert series, “MHz Presents,” an interactive technology show produced, created and hosted by teenagers.

By multicasting on its digital spectrum, WNVT will carry WNVC-TV's lineup, and as many as four other channels, as separate digital streams.

For more information visit www.mhznetworks.com.

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