Two Local Television Stations Delay Switch to All-Digital Broadcasting
Byline: Jeff Wright The Register-Guard
Faced with an ultimatum from the Federal Communications Commission, at least two of Eugene's four TV stations - NBC affiliate KMTR and CBS affiliate KVAL - will wait until June 12 before making the transition from analog to digital television broadcasting.
ABC affiliate KEZI and FOX affiliate KLSR, however, will go forward with plans to make the transition next week.
Full-power TV stations have been planning for years to turn off analog signals this coming Tuesday to make room for more efficient digital broadcasting, two-way wireless data services and emergency communications. But as the deadline loomed, funding ran out for the program that subsidized digital TV converter boxes for older sets. Concerned that households were not sufficiently prepared to tune in to digital broadcasts, Congress passed a bill giving stations the option of waiting until June 12 to turn off, and President Obama signed the bill into law.
That sent stations scrambling to figure out when to turn off, and 491 of the country's 1,796 stations - including all four in Eugene - applied to the FCC to keep to the original date of Feb. 17, partly thwarting the intent of the bill.
On Thursday, the FCC told 123 stations - in markets where all the major network stations had applied to turn off their signals next week - that at least one station in each market had to delay its conversion until June. Failing that, all the stations would be required to justify not extending their analog transmissions for four months.
The four Eugene stations initially decided to keep to the February deadline after conducting several analog shutdown tests that resulted in very little viewer reaction.
That suggested to local TV managers that most consumers were educated about the transition and had made the necessary preparations.
Nonetheless, in the wake of the FCC's decree, KMTR and KVAL decided Thursday that they would delay their conversions until June. …