Thursday, March 6, 2008

Low-powered Television Stations and the Transition

Low-powered television stations (LPTV) and translators are not mandated to shutoff analog broadcasts on February 17, 2009. Their analog signals may continue, with the FCC now exploring 2011 as a shutoff date for LPTV analog signals. I'm not sure if this was an over-sight by the FCC but it certainly complicates the viewers understanding of the transition. The message most often spoken is analog television is dead after 2/17/2009. Border markets, like ours, may also have access to analog signals from bordering Country’s. Canada hasn’t mandated an analog shutoff until 2011.

I bring this to your attention for two reasons. If you view WNYF FOX-28 from either of our analog channel 28 transmitters (WNYF-CA, Watertown or WNYF-LP, Massena), you can continue to view those signals after 2/17/09. We do have plans to begin digital broadcasts of WNYF-CA from its own transmitter in Watertown some time after 2/17/09. Its coverage area will be greater than the current analog coverage, and it will provide FOX programming in HDTV.

The second reason I note this is some of the DTV-to-analog converter boxes actually block analog signals. If you wish to continue to watch analog signals you’ll want to make sure you purchase a box that can pass analog signals. I am aware of three boxes that have that capability. Two from Philco and one from Echostar, which will be marketed under the companies Echostar and Slingbox brands. The other alternative is the installation of an A/B switch.

One final note about our situation…as I have noted in the past WWNY-DT broadcasts a digital multicast channel of WNYF FOX-28’s programming (channel 7.2). If you have no interest in watching analog broadcasts from Canada a standard DTV-to-analog converter box will provide you with a digital signal of WNYF from this multicast channel. Also, if you don’t currently live in an area served by one of our LPTV signals, a converter box will now provide that programming due to the multicast channel.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

So far I've only seen one converter box actually available in Canada with analogue passthrough - it was a store-branded version of the Zenith DTT-901 under a nameplate.

These didn't turn up until four or five months before the end of Watertown full-power analogue. No idea why no one had the foresight to get the boxes out and readily available during the Canadian summer (which falls on July 1 most years) so that viewers could try them and see if they needed the new antennas while there was still good weather in which to install them.

The PSA's do need to be a little clearer on some of these issues. Instead of saying everything is gone on Feb 17 (which is false), they should provide accurate info: "Your full-power US TV stations are already digital and will be turning off analogue signals on Feb 17, 2009; Canadian stations must convert by Aug 31, 2011. Low-power TV stations will follow later."

A little more difficult to squeeze into a 30-second PSA, but why confuse people by transmitting wrong and incomplete information?