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5 Tampa Bay area TV stations go digital today



Dtvgraphic Thanks but no thanks, Congress: Five Tampa Bay area TV stations will be among 641 outlets nationwide ending their analog broadcast signals by today — most at 11:59 p.m. — despite federal legislation delaying the transition to all-digital television by four months.

PBS station WEDU-Ch. 3, MyNetworkTV affiliate WTTA-Ch. 38, Univision affiliate WVEA-TV, Sarasota ABC affiliate WWSB-Ch. 7 and Christian Television Network station WCLF-Ch. 22 will eliminate their analog signals by the deadline -– joining 36 percent of the nearly 1,800 full-power TV stations nationwide in sticking with the Feb. 17 digital TV transition date originally picked by Congress three years ago.

WTTA will offer some analog “night light” programming, explaining that their station’s regular programs are only airing in digital and where viewers can get more information. The market’s biggest broadcasters — including local affiliates for the four biggest TV networks — will wait longer, perhaps until the new June 12 date authorized by legislators.

If you get television through cable TV or satellite, you will notice no change. Those with television sets capable of receiving digital signals through an antenna or outfitted with a digital-to-analog converter can see each station’s digital signals.

But an estimated 3.49 percent of the Tampa Bay area’s households, about 21,000 households, are considered “completely unready” for the switch according to Nielsen Media Research.

Here are answers to a few questions you may still have:

Convertercoupon Can I still get a government-funded $40 coupon for a converter box? Extra cash for the converter box coupon program, which amassed a wait list of 4-million people when funding ran out earlier this year, is contained in President Obama’s new economic stimulus bill. Federal officials say the backlog can be cleared in two weeks with the extra funding. See for more information.

Will my current digital-to-analog converter be affected? After midnight tonight, those with analog televisions attached to converter boxes should tell the unit to scan for available digital channels once again, just to make sure some stations’ frequencies haven’t shifted. Because some digital broadcast coverage patterns are different, you may receive a different array of channels through digital broadcasts than analog.

Why is this delay happening now? President Obama pushed for the delay, citing the lack of money in the converter box program; critics groused he didn’t want millions of people to lose TV programming so early in his administration.

Regardless, the shift has prompted some TV stations without the resources to extend analog broadcasts to stick with the original deadline. See for more information.


[Last modified: Wednesday, July 21, 2010 2:55pm]


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