WILL to stop analog March 31; WCIA, after June 12

WILL to stop analog March 31; WCIA, after June 12

URBANA – WILL-TV will stop analog broadcasting March 31, but WCIA-TV plans to continue broadcasting in analog through June 12, station managers said.

WILL-TV's analog signal will cease as of 6 a.m. March 31, station manager Carl Caldwell said. At that point, viewers relying on over-the-air signals will need to get a digital TV or a digital converter box to receive PBS programming on WILL. They can also choose to switch to cable or satellite.

Shutting down the analog signal will save WILL-TV between $2,000 and $3,000 a month in utility costs related to operating the analog transmitter, Caldwell said.

TV stations can continue analog broadcasting through June 12 as the result of an extension granted by the federal government. But many stations, including WICD-TV and WCCU-TV in Champaign and WAND-TV and WBUI-TV in Decatur, elected to stop analog broadcasting on the original changeover date in February.

WCIA-TV station manager Russ Hamilton said his CBS affiliate won't switch over entirely to digital until June, giving over-the-air viewers more time to "get their ducks in order."

"Now, enough people are still not ready," he said, noting he's received thanks from people who said the station's decision enabled their parents or grandparents to continue watching WCIA.

At WILL, Caldwell said the station had several windows of opportunity for discontinuing analog broadcasting, among them the March 27-31 period.

He said the station elected to stop on the final day of that period so it won't lose analog viewers until its March fund-raising campaign is almost over.

Ending analog broadcasting on March 31, he said, means the station won't have to produce another 30-minute program about the conversion to digital television. Caldwell said he thinks there has been "enough consumer education" at this point and most viewers are prepared for the analog shutoff.

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