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More TV Stations Shutting Down Analog Transmissions Before DTV Deadline

18 Mar, 2009 By: Chris Tribbey

The Federal Communications Commission March 17 released a list of 158 more TV stations that will shut down their analog signals before the June 12 deadline for every American station to broadcast digitally.

Most of the stations are in rural areas and don’t broadcast the four major networks. PBS and religious programming stations make up a sizeable portion of the 158 stations. They’ll join about 600 other stations that have already killed their analog signals, while nearly 1,000 others have told the FCC that they plan on keeping their analog signals running up until the deadline.

The Nielsen Co. is now estimating that as of March 1, 3.9% of American households — or 4.5 million homes — are still unprepared for the transition because their analog-only sets do not have a digital converter box. Buying a converter box or paying for cable or satellite TV would make those homes ready for the analog shut-off. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has received more funding for a $40 consumer coupon  program toward the purchase of the boxes, which it’s overseeing.

To serve those homes that are not prepared, the FCC is requiring stations shutting off their analog early to provide on-air and other notifications of possible signal losses, and to update their communities of the progress they’re making toward the digital transition.

“The guiding principle here is simple: Consumers deserve to know the truth,” said acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps. “They will forgive a lot, but they won’t forgive being lulled into a false sense that the transition will be less disruptive or less expensive than it turns out to be.”

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