Conversion Delay Interferes With Broadcasters’ Plans

The delay in the deadline for television broadcasters to switch their signal to digital may complicate the transition for some Nashville outlets.

TV broadcasters had all planned to switch their signals from analog to digital on February 17. But last week Congress voted to push the deadline back to June, so customers have more time to set up for digital reception.

Station manager Debbie Turner says Channel 5 is ready for the switch now, but will have to keep broadcasting its analog signal as well until June. That’s because going fully digital risks overlapping broadcasts with nearby analog signals that haven’t yet changed.

Turner says in the meantime, running the extra transmitter costs up to 10 thousand dollars a month.

“That’s unbudgeted dollars during an economy where we’re fighting for every penny. So, will it cost jobs? Probably not – I would certainly hope not – but you know, it’s impactful.”

Turner says the delay is also bad news for customers who already have digital receivers. She says until Channel 5 is allowed to go full-strength digital, some around the edges of broadcast area will have a harder time getting signal.

Turner says currently only 3.5 percent of the Nashville market – or thirty thousand people – aren’t yet ready for the transition; she doubts that’ll get much better before.

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Nashville Public Television had hoped to make the switch in February regardless of the delay, but ultimately opted against that. A spokesman said it didn’t make sense to rush into the change when it appears only the local Fox affiliate will be keeping the February 17 date.

Even if it pressed ahead, NPT would have needed FCC approval; like Channel 5 above, NPT could potentially overlap its signal with other broadcasters if it powers up its digital signal early.

Not so for Channel 2, which suffers fewer complications because its digital channel is also 2; manager Gwen Kinsey confirmed Friday the station will wait until June to switch.

This page will be updated as details come in about other local broadcasters’ plans for the transition.

Daniel Potter

Daniel Potter thinks the term 'general assignment' is a bland way to say he's brought back national reports from places like inside a man-made cave built to save endangered bats, a room where police store confiscated meth labs, and from the Grand Ole Opry while hundreds of evacuated hotel guests snoozed in the pews. A native of upstate Alabama, Dan enjoys rock-climbing and vegetarian dining.
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