Television Broadcast - September 2008 - (Page 8)
NEWS | Lessons from Wilmington N WILMINGTON, N.C. ow that Wilmington, N.C., has become the country’s first TV market to flip the digital switch, a few lessons are emerging that other markets can take to heart before the Feb. 17, 2009 analog shutdown. First, consumers should be encouraged to make the switch as early as possible. “What you don’t want to have is all these stations flipping on their digital transmitters come February 16 because then nobody can be proactive,” said Andy Combs, general manager of Morris-owned WWAY-TV of Wilmington, an ABC affiliate. “If I’m a viewer who relies on over-theair television, I want to go ahead and get my converter box and start scanning for the digital channels in my market. In a competitive market, why wait? Go ahead and encourage your viewers to start enjoying your digital signal now.” TESTING, TESTING, TESTING Second, TV stations should perform soft tests early and often. That means turning off the analog signal from time to time and replacing it with a screen that said “if you can see this, you aren’t ready for the digital transition.” Stations in Wilmington ran that test twice, but Dan Ullmer, chief engineer at Raycom’s NBC affiliate WECT-TV and Southeast Media’s Fox affiliate WSFX-TV, said that wasn’t enough. “I would suggest that a soft test be done in a program with very high ratings,” he said. “That’s very risky but it gets people’s attention.” “Broadcasters should go ahead and NEWSBREAK WiMAX Used for Backhaul DENVER Denver ABC affiliate KMGH-TV transmitted HD news over WiMAX during the Democratic National Convention in that city, according to the service provider. WMX Systems of Denver said KMGH used a wireless broadband connection start running the tests now,” said Connie Book, associate dean at Elon University’s School of Communications, who has been following the digital transition since it started. “People will forgive you for missing five minutes of a program but they won’t forgive you for missing a day.” Wilmington, N.C. became the test bed for the DTV transition in early September when five television stations there powered Third, consumers must be down their analog transmitters. informed that they need antennas as well as digital converter boxes. viewers for many years, but our old ana“Most of the highest angst came from log transmitter did not cover the market frustrated callers about the antennas,” properly,” Ullmer said. Book said. Overall, observers of the Wilmington test thought it went well. After months of blanketing the market with public service “I would suggest that a announcements, offering town-hall meetsoft test be done in a ings and constantly covering the story in program with very high local newscasts, around 1,800, or less ratings. That’s very than 1 percent of residents called the FCC risky but it gets people’s and local stations seeking assistance. Still, in larger markets, 1 percent of attention.” households can represent hundreds of — Dan Ullmer, WECT-TV thousands of homes, and only 7 percent and WSFX-TV of Wilmington households receive their television over-the-air; the rest subscribe And even people with antennas often to satellite or cable. Several U.S. TV marhad a tough time figuring out where to kets have over-the-air dependence of place it to get the signals they wanted. close to 30 percent. The FCC already has NBC affiliate WECT’s new digital transidentified 80 markets, which includes the mitter is now located much closer to the nation’s largest, where more than coast, so many viewers who received the 100,000 people rely on over-the-air telestation’s analog signal could not receive vision to receive their signals. its digital one. Without extensive messaging and even hands-on assistance, there could be thousands of disenfranchised TV viewers INADEQUATE COVERAGE come Feb. 17. “Many of those viewers are disapStill, broadcasters believe the transition pointed because they have been loyal to digital is the television industry’s necessary next step. “That’s the position I’ve taken since day one,” Ullmer said. “We have to do this. We have to move forward to transmit HD news from an ENG truck and upgrade if we’re going to compete.” back to the station at 1 Mbps. — Paige Albiniak WMX heralded the arrangement as a “first-time event” for the telecommunications industry, but stations around the country are experimenting with various forms of broadband for getting news files from the field to the station. TVB STANDS CORRECTED In the August issue of TVB, we reported that 2Q broadcast TV revenues were $11 million versus $11.5 million last year. That would be $11 billion versus $11.5 billion. TVB regrets its mathematical impediments. 8 www.televisionbroadcast.com | September 2008
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Television Broadcast - September 2008
Television Broadcast - September 2008
The Wilmington Experiment
Surround Sound Takes Planning, Skill and Luck
Considerations for Tapeless Acquisition
What to Buy for HD ENG
BAS Transition Benefits
Games Spawn Mobile Movement
HD News Map
What's In a Converter Box? Hmmm...
The Ins and Outs of Political Rules
Business Abhors a Vacuum
Television Broadcast - September 2008
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