Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WJCT Taking PBS Shows Digital; the Public Television Station Opts to Make the Switch Early

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

WJCT Taking PBS Shows Digital; the Public Television Station Opts to Make the Switch Early

Article excerpt

Byline: MARK BASCH

Jacksonville public television station WJCT TV-7 will become the first local station to go all digital, shutting off its analog signal at noon Monday, April 6.

Jacksonville's commercial stations will wait to go all digital on June 12, the deadline set by the federal government for all of the nation's full-power TV stations to shut down analog broadcasts. Religious station WJEB TV-59 also will go digital early, shutting off its analog signal on Thursday, April 16.

The Federal Communications Commission had set a Tuesday deadline for stations to apply for an early switch, and the agency said late Tuesday that WJCT and WJEB were the only Jacksonville stations planning to go all digital before June 12.

When the stations shut off their analog signals, the signals they have been sending out for years, television sets that don't have digital converters won't be able to receive the stations. Subscribers to cable and satellite services won't be affected, because the service provider will convert the signals before sending them to subscribers. But viewers who watch television via over-the-air antennas on older sets that aren't digitally equipped will need to attach a digital converter box to continue getting signals.

That means when WJCT shuts off its analog signals, viewers who aren't digitally ready won't be able to watch PBS programs.

"You don't want to see anyone not have access to it," said Michael Boylan, president and CEO of WJCT.

"The economics dictated to us that we can't wait" until June, he said.

Until stations go all digital, television stations are sending out both analog and digital signals at the same time. Boylan said it costs his station an extra $12,000 to $15,000 a month to continue sending the analog signal.

WJEB also said it was switching early to cut the expense of the additional signal. …

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