Station to Station

NY Times: Digital Shift 'Mostly' Smooth

6/14/2009 09:57:17 PM

The nationwide analog shutoff was mostly painless, reports Brian Stelter of the NY Times, with some glitches here and there.

Mike Burgess, the general manager of KOB in Albuquerque, said he had braced himself for calls when the station switched at 5 a.m. on Friday. According to Nielsen, Albuquerque had the highest rate of unprepared viewers of any market in the country. Acknowledging his surprise, he said the station had logged only three calls in the first digital hours.

“One of ‘em was, when’s your weather guy coming back from vacation?” he said.

As of Saturday evening, the station had received about 150 calls.

As was expected, one couldn’t quite call the transition seamless, with 317,00 calls answered at the FCC hotline Friday alone. Not everyone found digital television to their liking.

Because digital signals are more apt to be affected by interference, many viewers in rural areas said they could see fewer stations than before.

“Digital signals are sometimes more finicky than analog signals,” said Rick Kaplan, an F.C.C. spokesman. “It may take some time to find the exact right position for your antenna.”

Tim Downey, a resident of Severna Park, Md., between Washington and Baltimore, said his rabbit ears reliably picked up seven to nine stations before the switch, but only one - PBS and its three subchannels - afterward.

“I was better off before the elimination of analog television,” he said. He added ruefully that the digital pictures were crystal-clear, but only “when I can get them.”

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