421 Stations To Pull Analog Plug on Feb. 17
A total of 641 stations--more than one third of country--will have made DTV transition by original hard date
By John Eggerton -- Broadcasting & Cable, 2/16/2009 5:45:23 PM
Related:The DTV Countdown: Continuing Coverage of the DTV Transition
The FCC released its latest DTV figures Monday, and 421 stations will terminate their analog signals as of midnight on Tuesday, Feb. 17.
Adding in the 220 stations that have already shut off their analog signals, or will on Monday, a total of 641 stations--or 36% of the country--will have made the switch by the original Feb. 17 hard date. Congress moved the date to June 12 at the urging of the then Obama transition team.
The FCC says it has sent staffers to the 72 markets with higher analog penetration where they expect the impact from tomorrow's shut-off to be the greatest. The commission has also boosted its call-center staffing for its DTV help line, 1-888-CALL-FCC, and has a new DTV reception map at http://www.dtv.gov/fixreception.html to help viewers figure out what kind of DTV reception they should be getting.
"This is not just about whether people can watch their favorite reality show," said acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. "It's about whether consumers have access to vital emergency alerts, weather, news and public affairs."
Over the weekend, the FCC identified 106 stations that had sought to pull the plug on analog Feb. 17 in markets where all the network affiliates wanted to to so.
Forty-three of those decided to delay, while the rest agreed to an enhanced analog nightlight set-up where at least one of the stations in the market would keep an analog signal on for another 60 days with news and public affairs as well as DTV transition info and, potentially, emergency information.
There were also 10 stations who identified themselves as hardship cases and needed to pull the plug on Feb. 17 in a problematic market. The FCC granted all 10 requests.
The FCC also said over the weekend that it would be less strict about letting stations who had said they were going Feb. 17 change their minds and stay on. Even so, only a half dozen, mostly educational stations, took it up on the offer, according to an FCC spokesperson.
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