With the completion of the nationwide digital television (DTV) transition just three weeks away, many U.S. television broadcasters participated yesterday in a “soft test” of the DTV conversion that acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps hoped would serve as “a wakeup call” to consumers. At the urging of the FCC, many of the 927 full-power stations that have yet to complete the switch to DTV temporarily suspended analog broadcasts for five-minute intervals, running public service announcements at those times that warned viewers that, if they could see the message, they were not prepared for the final DTV conversion that will take place on June 12. In accordance with FCC instructions, broadcasters were to conduct the five-minute tests at three times—7:25 AM, 12:30 PM, and 6:25 PM—although the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) and the FCC have agreed that some stations would need “some flexibility regarding the time of day and length of the test.” Data released by the FCC earlier this week indicated that, in 38 markets, no network affiliate that has yet to shut off its analog signals had agreed to conduct the test and that information from 29 additional markets remained pending. The nation’s remaining 869 full power stations that have already converted their signals were not asked to participate in the test. Among viewers of those stations, FCC sources indicate that 15% have been “significantly affected” by the transition. Explaining the need for the tests, FCC Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein stressed, “I want to make clear to the American people, broadcasters and everyone involved that the end is near.”
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TV broadcasters conduct “soft test” of analog signal shutoff
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