Wilmington DTV Project Set for Monday

Wilmington, N.C., stations to proceed with early analog shutoff Sept. 8 in wake of Hurricane Hanna.
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The Wilmington, N.C., market's pilot analog-shutoff program is a go for Monday, Sept. 8, now that Hurricane Hanna has blown through town with minimal damage.

According to program manager Louis Sigalos, the stakeholders met Sunday morning and were setting up for the big shutoff event Monday. Federal Communications Commission chairman Kevin Martin was scheduled to preside over the symbolic cutoff, but Sigalos wouldn't say just how, maintaining that he wanted to preserve the drama.

But the FCC was just as happy that Hanna was less dramatic than it might have been. Sigalos said the storm came through with lots of rain and wind but the damage was "almost nonexistent," limited to some erosion along the beach, a gas-station roof blown off and some power outages, which had mostly been restored.

At the behest of the FCC, five full-power stations are switching off their analog signals and going all-digital early -- the national shutoff is Feb. 17, 2009 -- so that the commission can better gauge the impact of the transition.

The FCC wasn't necessarily looking to hold the test on the Atlantic seaboard during hurricane season, but of the handful of markets the FCC said were ready to make the switch, only Wimington volunteered.

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