Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Digital TV Update

As promoted, but a little late...a bit of a Digital TV Update. As of this writing, we're about 6 weeks away from the digital TV transition on February 17th, where, by 11:59:59 PM, all full-power stations will turn off their signals.

Well, almost all.

We've told you about the so-called "nightlight" analog TV bill, which was approved and signed into law. It allows a certain number of stations to keep their analog TV transmitters up for 30 days after February 17, carrying information about the transition and necessary emergency info.

The FCC has released a tentative list of stations (PDF file) that would technically be able to take advantage of the so-called "SAFER Act", and in Northeast Ohio, there's only one station that could keep its analog transmitter on the extra month: Gannett NBC affiliate WKYC/3 in Cleveland.

Why WKYC?

Well, the stations allowed the "analog nightlight" period have to be on channels that don't interfere with post-transition digital channels, for one. That's the most basic consideration, and since very few digital signals will perch on RF channel 3, that's how WKYC fits the criteria.

The tentative criteria would also exclude analog signals in the channel 52-69 range, which will be out of the DTV core.

Ohio has four other stations on the early list: Columbus' WCMH/4 and WSYX/6, Dayton's WDTN/2 and Zanesville's WHIZ/18. Some states have no outlets which would be able to provide the "nightlight" service.

The FCC is still going through all this stuff, and there's no word at this early time (!!) whether WKYC or any other listed station will take advantage of the "SAFER Act". As far as we know, it's entirely voluntary.

As far as Cleveland's Channel 3 goes, they're still pretty much at stage one in regards to construction of the new tower that will hold the digital antennas for WKYC-DT (RF 17) and WVIZ-DT (RF 26).

We took the OMW Mobile to Parma on Sunday, and snapped this picture from the end of the WKYC transmitter facility's driveway...where you can, from the street, see these tower sections laying on the ground in front of the WKYC transmitter building.

We don't know where the antenna tower will sit on the property, but you can tell from these pictures snapped two days ago that there's a lot more work to do.

We also snapped a picture, from a nearby public street, of this WKYC auxiliary tower - we believe the temporary WVIZ-DT antenna is up there somewhere, not on the nearby radar tower, as specified in a WVIZ FCC filing. The two towers are next to each other.

Our apologies for the picture quality, as the fog rolled in on Sunday.

From the WKYC site on Broadview Road, we thought we'd head for the former WVIZ studios on Brookpark Road, and see if anything was still on that short auxiliary tower behind the building.

The tower behind the former WVIZ studios has been completely dismantled, and the building itself is now occupied by office tenants. When they said they had to vacate the former STA site, they meant it.

Move along, nothing to see here.

But there's a lot to see at this FCC website link, which provides estimated coverage maps - and signal improvement - for all of the country's full-power digital stations, and the digital signal increases (or decreases) nationwide for the four major commercial TV networks.

We're also watching the FCC's online CDBS database, which doesn't yet show an agency approval for the early "power up" for Western Reserve PBS Youngstown market outlet WNEO-DT 45 Alliance...

3 comments:

Tri-State Media Watch said...

FCC Chairman Kevin Martin is in Cincinnati this morning, talking about the digital transition.

YEKIMI said...

So whatever he says, believe the exact opposite.

Energy said...

I was at the grandparents in Hinckley last week setting up their converters and they no longer get the following channels:

23: Will Flash Cut
25: Too weak
55: Too weak

Overall, they are happy so far and after the trasition they should get 2 of those back.