Some area TV stations ending analog broadcasts by Feb. 17

Some area TV stations ending analog broadcasts by Feb. 17

CHAMPAIGN – Though Congress extended the deadline for the digital television transition to June 12, several area stations still plan to cut off analog transmission by Feb. 17.

The transition will not affect those people with cable or satellite services or those with digital televisions. Those with older, analog televisions who receive television via the airways will be affected.

"We did a good job in educating the public" about the transition, said Ron Pulera, general manager and vice president of WAND-TV.

Since March 2008, WAND put out more than 1,100 public service announcements and over 700 information crawls as well as numerous other announcements on the transition, Pulera said.

When Congress extended the deadline, they did not consider the added cost – generally $20,000 more a month for power – that television stations would have to pay to broadcast in analog, he said.

Tim Mathis, general manager of WICD-TV and WICS-TV, said they, too, would be cutting off analog transmission by Feb. 17 "in order to avoid any added confusion" among viewers.

"We feel we've made every effort to notify the public," Mathis said.

WCIA-TV General Manager Russ Hamilton said cutting off analog transmission for his station would cause interference with WILL-TV, a violation of Federal Communications Commission rules.

Until WILL-TV cuts analog transmission, WCIA will continue to broadcast in both digital and analog. The station has been broadcasting in digital for 18 months.

"We're keeping both on," Hamilton said.

For WILL-TV, however, cutting off analog transmission may affect public donations.

Carl Caldwell, station manager for WILL-TV, said 8 percent to 10 percent of the station's viewers are still not "digital ready."

"We're concerned about losing viewers who are still not DTV ready," Caldwell said.

One of the station's largest fundraisers happens in March, and cutting analog transmission by Feb. 17 could potentially cut off donors, Caldwell said.

"We don't want to lose people," he said.

Caldwell said the station will reassess the situation in March, but most likely will continue to broadcast analog until June 12.

WBUI, WRSP and WCCU plan to cut analog transmission by Feb. 17, according to information released Tuesday from the FCC.

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