09/16/08 — Statewide digital TV test planned for Wednesday, officials report

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Statewide digital TV test planned for Wednesday, officials report

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on September 16, 2008 1:37 PM

A statewide digital television test will be held tomorrow by the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration to get ready for the national digital conversion in February.

At midnight on Feb. 17, 2009, all full-power television stations in the United States will stop broadcasting in analog and switch to total digital broadcasting.

Television stations that are scheduled to test -- stations WRAL-TV, WTVD-TV, WNCN-TV and WUVC-TV have confirmed that they will be participating -- will switch to digital-only broadcasting Wednesday as a test to alert viewers of the transition and as an easy way for viewers to determine if they are prepared with the correct equipment for the transition.

The test will be anytime between 6 and 6:30 p.m., depending on when the individual stations choose to run it. The test is expected to be a 60-second block.

Converter boxes are available for those who don't have a digital savvy television and don't want to buy one. The box sits on top of the television and translates the digital signal. The boxes cost about $40, and can be found at most national retail stores.

The NTIA has a converter box coupon program. Those interested in the coupon program must fill out an application online at www.dtv2009.org, via phone at 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009), through the mail to PO BOX 2000, Portland, OR 97208-2000 or fax to 1-877-DTV-4ME2 (1-877-388-4632). Deaf or hard of hearing callers may dial 1-877-530-2634 -- English/TTY -- or 1-866-495-1161 -- Spanish/TTY. TTY Service is available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Five Wilmington stations already made the transition to digital broadcasting on Sept. 8. Wilmington was the first city in the nation to convert, part of a pilot program to test the new system.