Monday, September 08, 2008

What's Up In Wilmington? Today's The Day!

Well, it's finally September 8th, which means that at noontime today FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin will throw a switch in Wilmington, NC, at which point the five counties which comprise the Wilmington market transition to digital-only broadcast TV (other than the PBS affiliate and one of the two area low-power stations), five months ahead of the rest of the U.S.A.

While the last few days saw this event draw attention as far away as Australia, there was also some speculation that Tropical Storm Hanna might cause a delay in the proceedings. However, Hanna turned out to have a relatively minor effect on the area, and the FCC gave the final go-ahead on Sunday morning.

So now it's just a matter of waiting to see what happens. As mentioned last time, there was another, longer "soft test" of the switchoff last Tuesday, and according to Broadcast Engineering magazine, the info line for affected analog viewers logged "about 10" calls (up from zero for the earlier one-minute test). Local station WECT also ran a piece on the receptionist who will be dealing with any upset watchers when the switchoff happens in a couple of hours. One problem noted - today's piece on the TV Predictions site mentions that there have been complaints that the converter boxes don't pick up all the local stations. Given that the Wilmington area is flatter than most and should be expected to have better reception, this could be significant for the country as a whole (a lot of new antennas may need to be factored into peoples' budgets).

I'll be monitoring various news sources (industry and otherwise) throughout the day today, and expect to put up at least a couple more posts. So far this morning, this doesn't look like it's going to be a big mass media story. My morning Boston Globe doesn't have anything, and I don't see any new stories on the New York Times or CNN websites. The Los Angeles Times did run two stories this week, and both the Washington Post and Fox News sites ran this Associated Press story from last Friday (there was also a blog entry last Wednesday at U.S. News & World Report). I've also been flipping around the various news shows this morning, and nothing so far.

I'll keep watching!

P.S. There is one first-hand source you might want to check out - DeeNice at the Digital Dynamo blog is on-site, and I'll be checking that source as well.

P.P.S. BTW, this is my 100th post, for what it's worth.


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