Bay Area Stations Conducting Soft Analog Shut Off Test

Test, involving 18 stations in theSan Francisco Bay area and its environs, will occur Oct. 21 and will last "at least one minute."

Bay Area broadcasters will conduct a soft analog shut-off test Oct. 21, according to KGO-TV, one of the participating stations.

The test, involving 18 stations "from Santa Rosa to Monterrey" will be "at least one minute" and begin at 6:15 p.m.

The FCC has been encouraging more soft analog tests, though one takeaway from the Wilmington, NC., early analog shut-off is that the FCC is encouraging longer tests of several minutes.

According to an outline of the test dated for release Oct. 19, the test will consist of signal tones followed by a graphic that will say "ready" for viewers who can receive a digital signal--digital TVs, converter boxes or cable--and a "not ready" for viewers of an analog over-the-air signal. Viewers will be directed to the Web site for more information.

The FCC will also be staffing its call center in anticipation of the test.

San Francisco has about 200,000 over-the-air only households--compared to 1,000 to 20,000 in Wilmington. It also has hilly terrain that could prove a reception challenge for some viewers.

Ion Media has been pushing for coordinated soft analog tests around the country, with the help and support of FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein. Ion's KKPX is one of the San Francisco stations participating, but Ion is coordinating a New York test Oct. 28 and, according to a source, has one more test being set up in November and three more in December, all in top 30 markets.