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DTV Transition Began


All television stations in the South Florida area successfully migrated to the new ATSC 8VSB digital format. On Friday, June 13, the remaining television full power stations ceased broadcasting the old NTSC analog format. This was a major step in the implementation of the full transition.

SBE Chapter 53 has been sponsoring a readiness test of the local DTV distribution system. All local stations in the Miami and West Palm Beach markets are participating in this dual market test. The first test occurred on December 08, 2008 alerting viewers to take action so that they could continue viewing South Florida television stations.

For many of us in the broadcast engineering community, June 13 ushered in a new era in television. In Atlanta, Georgia, the shutdown of the NTSC analog system at Fox Channel 5 WAGA was a special event. Paul Crandall, now 99 years old, was the chief engineer that put WAGA on the air many years ago. He was given the honor of shutting down WAGA on Friday. You can watch the story unfold here.

The FCC said that 317,450 calls had been handled on Friday, June 12 alone by the commission's help line, 1-888-CALL-FCC. "Of the calls handled by live FCC help-line agents, nearly 30 percent concerned the operation of digital converter boxes," the FCC said. "Most of those calls were resolved when consumers were instructed to 're-scan' their converter boxes in order to receive the digital channels that had moved to new frequencies."

According to Nielsen Co., which measures ratings and other television-rated data, more than 6.5 million U.S. households (5.7 percent of the total) were not ready for the transition as of January 22 and would not be able to get any television programming on their sets. (see article) That number had been cut in half by Friday, Acting FCC Chairman Michael Copp said.

The Federal Communications Commission is offer publications for any outreach events or presentations. You can request information at www.dtv.gov. Also here.


The FCC announced, in Notice of Proposed Rule Making, that it would allow DTV station to file for Replacement Digital Television Translator. "The Commission announced that it would seek comment on the creation of a new replacement digital television translator service. In order to preserve service to possible loss areas and expedite the future consideration of applications for replacement translator facilities, the Commission announced that it would begin accepting applications or replacement digital television translator stations following the release date of the Replacement Digital Television Translator NPRM." The full Public Notice can be viewed here.


The local FCC field office and Stephanie Dabkowski have organized a list of DTV installation contractors for the South Florida area. You can obtain contractor requirement information and a list of contractors by clicking the links.


Congress passed a bill on February 4, 2009 that delayed the DTV transition date to June 12, 2009. You can read more about the DTV Delay here.

As a result of Congress's actions to delay the DTV transition date, the Federal Communications Commission has released new guildlines for DTV broadcasters to use in determining their own options with respects to the transition. Public Notice 09-6 and the Commission's Third DTV Periodic Report and Order outlines the new rules with respects to the transition.

In late December , 2008, President Elect Obama seeked to delay the DTV transition. In a letter to lawmakers, John Podesta, chief of Obama's transition team, urged Congress to consider delaying the DTV transition. Your can read more here.

SBE Chapter 53 has posted a Converter Box Chart. Using this chart, you can instruct your viewers on how to rescan the band for reallocated channels.

DTV Readiness and the Public

Nielson recently said that 6.8 percent of homes are 'Completely Unready' for the DTV transition. The study also found that penetration of homes that are partially unready dipped to 10 percent in December 2008 from 10.8 percent in November 2008.

Non-Hispanic households continue to be more ready than their Hispanic counterparts, Nielsen said, but the rate at which Hispanic households are getting ready is picking up.  The penetration of completely unready households among Hispanics dropped almost a full percentage point in the past month, to 11.5% from 12.4%, after being essentially flat during October and November.

In the first dual market DTV test, SBE - Miami, the stations in the Miami DMA along with the stations in the West Palm Beach DMA conducted a DTV test on December 08, 2008. Almost 3500 viewers responded to the test indicating that they were not DTV ready. This is a significantly larger response than other test that have been conducted throughout the nation. 59 percent of the respondences were Hispanic while 41 percent were classified as non Hispanic.

The Society of Broadcast Engineers - Chapter 53 - Miami wants to thank all those who have participated, cooperated and financially supported the DTV test program.

Further information on the DTV transition can be found at www.dtv.gov.

DTV Converter Information

SBE Chapter 53 has posted a Converter Box Chart. Using this chart, you can instruct your viewers on how to rescan the band for reallocated channels.


More Information on DTV

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