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FCC Taps NC City to Test Digital Switcheroo


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18 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   Nick

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 10:01 AM

Residents of Wilmington, NC to be lab rats before nationwide transition to digital TV.

The Federal Communications Commission plans to make the greater Wilmington
area a digital-TV test market to work out any bugs before the entire nation goes
all digital on Feb. 17.

All four commercial broadcasters in the Wilmington region — with a population of
about 400,000 — have agreed to turn off their analog signals and broadcast in
digital only starting Sept. 8, 2008 The switch will be preceded by an intensive local
consumer education campaign, including TV and radio ads.

"This will help us understand what we need to do to prepare the rest of the country",
FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said. ...

More @ USAToday.com

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#2 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:12 AM

This seems like a bad idea to me. I can understand the desire to have a test market... BUT consumers in the test market will be getting shorted by at least 6 months of prep time for the cutover. Folks that have been paying attention to the "you need to be prepared by 2/2009" may not be ready and will have every reason to complain in this kind of surprise scenario.

Imagine, for instance, how every year the government reminds you that tax forms are due by April 15th... but then one year you find out around November that if you live in Wilmington, NC your taxes are suddenly going to be due on Feb 1st! Let the mad scramble ensue!

Thus, I'm not sure this will be a valid test... and I'm sure more than a few feathers will be ruffled even with folks who had been preparing. Consider too that whole 90-day-expiring coupon scenario... where people who are going to order coupons for their digital boxes may have been waiting until later this year so their coupons don't expire before the box they want to buy comes out.

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#3 OFFLINE   tonyd79

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 12:30 PM

Uh,

"The switch will be preceded by an intensive local
consumer education campaign, including TV and radio ads."

If it is truly intense, it will be fine.

You need a test bed of some type. Better to be ready to help a few thousand than not be ready when you switch over hundreds of millions.
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#4 OFFLINE   Sirshagg

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 12:35 PM

Uh,

"The switch will be preceded by an intensive local
consumer education campaign, including TV and radio ads."

If it is truly intense, it will be fine.

You need a test bed of some type. Better to be ready to help a few thousand than not be ready when you switch over hundreds of millions.


But won't this also skew the results unless the same intensive consumer education campaign is done nationally for the 2/09 switch?
Who is this "Vod Kanockers" that you speak of?

#5 OFFLINE   n3ntj

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 12:54 PM

This should be interesting.
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#6 OFFLINE   tcusta00

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 01:21 PM

But won't this also skew the results unless the same intensive consumer education campaign is done nationally for the 2/09 switch?


Good point. It's the government though, what do you expect?! :icon_stup

#7 OFFLINE   Cholly

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 01:32 PM

But won't this also skew the results unless the same intensive consumer education campaign is done nationally for the 2/09 switch?


There will always be someone who just doesn't get the word. Even with intensive warnings on the air and in the newspaper, there will be some who just don't watch commercials or psa's and as a result will be in the dark. Even if the gov't were to send fliers to each and every mail box, there will be some people who will see their TV's go dark.

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#8 OFFLINE   MikeW

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 01:36 PM

They ought to let AT&T handle the changeover. Is there a single person in the entire US that did not know that Cingular is now the "New AT&T"?

Can't wait until 3/1/09. By then, this will finally be old news. Local stations are now running crawls. Will we really need 8 months of this?

#9 OFFLINE   tcusta00

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 01:57 PM

They ought to let AT&T handle the changeover. Is there a single person in the entire US that did not know that Cingular is now the "New AT&T"?


:rolling:

#10 OFFLINE   Sirshagg

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 02:52 PM

They ought to let AT&T handle the changeover. Is there a single person in the entire US that did not know that Cingular is now the "New AT&T"?


So true.
Who is this "Vod Kanockers" that you speak of?

#11 OFFLINE   tfederov

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 09:57 PM

Can't wait until 3/1/09. By then, this will finally be old news. Local stations are now running crawls. Will we really need 8 months of this?


Yep. In 8 months nobody can say that they weren't warned. In fact, two months away from the transition they should start the crawls every 15 minutes during prime time.
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#12 OFFLINE   Stewart Vernon

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Posted 08 May 2008 - 11:10 PM

Yep. In 8 months nobody can say that they weren't warned. In fact, two months away from the transition they should start the crawls every 15 minutes during prime time.


That's actually my main problem with this "test"... I agree that people have had several years to prepare if they were paying attention... and with the PSAs ramping up, I don't think many will have any excuse not knowing 2/2009 is the approaching deadline.

BUT, if they have been doing a good job getting that message out to folks... this "test" will blindside people many months early who may very well have been preparing to pick something up the end of the year during Thanksgiving/Christmas sales.

Plus, at this point I don't see how they will learn anything of value that they could apply to the already defined Feb deadline.

IF they really wanted a test case, then my opinion is that when they started advertising the 2/2009 date a couple of years ago they should have picked a target market and at least a year ago been advertising an earlier date for that specific "test".

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#13 OFFLINE   tonyd79

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 07:10 AM

But won't this also skew the results unless the same intensive consumer education campaign is done nationally for the 2/09 switch?


No, you have to intensify if you are doing it at a different time. The intensity is because it is different than the numerous commercials and articles and features on TV that I have seen.

Besides, the results you get just from the TECHINICAL side alone are worth the experiment.
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#14 OFFLINE   HIPAR

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 07:25 AM

That market has 91% of its viewers watching on paid services. There are also many Low Power stations there that will remain on analog. No one is going to notice.

Maybe they should try testing New York, if only for a few days!

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#15 OFFLINE   SamC

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 06:16 AM

Just to add to the confusion, the market just to the south of that is Myrtle Beach. Myrtle Beach has always been missing NBC and cable has always imported both WECT in Williamington and WIS in Columbia.

Raycom has been authorized to finally bring a new station, which will launch as digital only, WMBF Channel 32 in August.

#16 OFFLINE   Paul Secic

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Posted 10 May 2008 - 03:28 PM

Yep. In 8 months nobody can say that they weren't warned. In fact, two months away from the transition they should start the crawls every 15 minutes during prime time.


Don't you mean every minute? That will get people's attention!

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#17 OFFLINE   jsk

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Posted 26 May 2008 - 09:19 AM

They should only run the messages on the analog channel and it should say that if you see this, then you (or your cable/satellite provider) aren't ready for the cut over. A week before the transition, they should continuously run the crawls in a large font. One day before the transition, they should cease all programming, run an audio message with a slate explaining the transition.
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#18 OFFLINE   Steve615

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 01:31 PM

15 days into the transition from analog-to-digital for the Wilmington,NC area,and there are already numerous complaints from viewers in that area to the FCC.Some numbers in regards to the complaints:
1,828 complaints within the first 5 days in regards to the inability to tune into one or more channels.
553 complaints were aimed directly toward the NBC affiliate,WECT.

http://news.yahoo.co...s0ecrTF08ZH2ocA

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#19 OFFLINE   n3ntj

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Posted 23 September 2008 - 03:35 PM

Interesting article. Did the stations in that market use the power levels and channels that will be used post-Feb 2009? Or did they use the current pre-Feb 2009 digital channels and power levels? I ask because some stations are changing back to their analog freqs for digital broadcasts and some stations are moving to a new freq for digital (post- Feb 2009).

I would expect this sort of issue and will probably lead to the FCC and individual stations making adjustments to power output levels to better match the current analog footprint once analog goes black. Should be an interesting time next Feb.
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