The National Association of Broadcasters is reaching out to DTV-to-analog converter-box manufacturers asking them to incorporate analog pass-through capacity in their boxes and pledging to produce TV spots to inform viewers that not all analog signals will be cut off Feb. 18, 2009.
While a handful of the converter boxes pass through analog, many of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration-approved boxes do not. With low-power and translator stations, which retransmit signals to remote areas, not required to switch to digital by Feb, 18, 2009, as full-power stations are, there is possibility for confusion.
Viewers in remote and urban areas would not get those analog signals on their TV's if they bought boxes that did not pass through analog signals.
As a result, the NAB board resolved to: 1) write manufacturers asking them to incorporate the pass-through feature; 2) urge broadcasters to get the word out to viewers about the low-power stations and translators that won't necessarily cut off analog signals; 3) try to pinpoint places where large numbers of viewers might still be getting analog signals after the transition; and 4) help to produce TV spots that directly address the issue and what viewers need to do to still receive the signals.
Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin said Thursday that he was also concerned about the issue and he had been meeting with the low-power community and box manufacturers. He commended the NAB for "recognizing there is a problem and trying to find a solution."
Martin added that with the way funding is currently set up for helping low-powers make the transition, a hard deadline for them probably won't come before 2011 or 2012.