Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Wrapping Up The Early Switch

We've been on the road, and have spent a lot of time talking about what was supposed to be a nationwide event...the end of full-power analog TV...on Tuesday.

We'll continue to pass along news about the still-ongoing transition, but this item will wrap up the detailed coverage of "Transition Day One"...and we'll be spending more time on our usual mix of items from now on. Coming up later, either tonight or tomorrow morning, more rumblings about that news video sharing "pool" announced by Cleveland's WKYC/3 and WOIO/19.

But wrapping up the "first" digital transition...

You could say we were "deprived" of what we'd expected on February 17th in the immediate Northeast Ohio area, so that sent us to other parts of the state and region...but now, the "pause button" is mostly on the digital transition until June 12th.

For the record, the reaction from most people we talked with in the Wheeling/Steubenville market boils down to: "Yes, we heard about channel 7. We have Comcast. All of our friends have Comcast. We didn't have to do anything." Some comments to the WTRF website, though, gave us the impression that some smaller cable systems had early trouble on Tuesday afternoon, though we suspect that's solved now.

UPDATE 2/18/09 12:52 PM: We're not entirely sure that even some Comcast subscribers didn't have trouble early on, though we'd be shocked if that wasn't resolved by now, or at very least the end of the day. On the Comcast system where we were Tuesday, the cable was connected to a QAM-capable TV, which had been scanned to pick up the 7-1 through 7-3 digital channels in place with the analog lineup.

Various national media reports from the markets where significant stations did shut off indicate that there was a "steady stream" of callers to stations and phone banks after Tuesday's switch, but "no major glitches" so far.

Here's a roundup of what happened around the state:

CLEVELAND/AKRON: The sole station shutting off analog in our immediate coverage area late Tuesday was Multicultural Broadcasting infomercial outlet WOAC/67 Canton, which barely gets viewers on cable or digital, let alone analog.

In a comment to one of our earlier items, Tim Lones of the Cleveland Classic Media blog tells us:

WOAC Canton showed a crawl explaining thay were about to go off the air and mentioning they were originally licensed in 1981. Interestingly, right before they went off the air, there was an ad for an upcoming local program that used the old original Channel 67 logo that had been used since their sign-on..The station shut off at midnight..

That show would, we presume, be the "Handy Randy" auto-related show that host Randy Lipscomb is, we presume, now brokering on WOAC (the station only airs paid programming).

The show has also aired for a number of years on Media-Com's low-power Class A combo WAOH/29-W35AX/35 "The Cat". We saw a promo for it - yes, with the old style 67 logo - a couple of weeks ago while tracking the station's analog shutoff notification messages.

We'll presume Mr. Lipscomb grabbed the old logo for his promo, because the station doesn't have one in its Multicultural incarnation.

COLUMBUS: OMW reader "Matt" had his TV on Tuesday night to catch the two Columbus market stations making the early switch, and comments on one of our earlier items:

Fox 28 WTTE Columbus faded into the nightlight program in spanish at the time about how to use a DTV converter...

CW 53 WWHO Chillicothe Ohio is showing a a slide that says "If you see this your tv isn't ready for DTV! WWHO-TV is now transmitting only on it's digital signal Channel 46" and has their mailing address, phone # and web URL on screen.

We''ll assume that "nightlight program in Spanish" refers to the National Association of Broadcasters' 8 1/2 minute loop of DTV transition information, which carries open captioning in both English and Spanish throughout. It's in the video we have of WTAP/15 Parkersburg's transition on Monday night.

CINCINNATI/DAYTON: OMW reader Rich Emery in Hamilton (or is that Hamilton!), who has been tracking the Southwest Ohio digital transition for us, is rewarded for his work with just a single station in the entire region switching off analog Tuesday. He tells us:

Cincinnati's WSTR-64 ended regular analog broadcasting shortly before 11:30 PM Tuesday night, following broadcast of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and a couple of ads. The absolutely final item? An ad for a prominent local used car dealer, Jake Sweeney. Their Nightlight service is now all that's visible on 64 analog, just still slides with info on DTV including phone numbers to call, and several videos on DTV (including at least one in Spanish).

Again, we'll assume that last video is from the NAB.

(It's been fun watching stations in this region explaining to viewers why there is transition information in Spanish on the so-called "nightlight" analog feed - it's required by the FCC, even in areas with nearly no Spanish-speaking viewers.)

At one point, Rich expected to see the entire Dayton analog broadcast dial go dark on Tuesday, but as we've detailed here, that fell apart inside of a week. As recently expected, Dayton PBS outlet WPTD/16 "ThinkTV16" was indeed able to get the FCC OK to keep analog 16 going past Tuesday...

OTHERS: We already handled Parkersburg/Marietta (WTAP with analog nightlight) and Wheeling/Steubenville (WTRF moves digital to 7, no nightlight, WTOV/9 keeps analog until June). Oddly enough, both the WTRF and WTAP transmitters are physically in Ohio.

We haven't gotten word on Toledo PBS outlet WGTE/30, though we assume it did go dark as expected.

Tri-State Media Watch's
Jeremy Moses tells us he'll continue to watch the fallout from his part of the state, and nearby markets...


Andrew said...

"WOAC-TV Canton/Cleveland/Akron is now discontinuing analog signal broadcasting on channel 67. WOAC is owned and operated by MTBL Cleveland and was originally licensed in 1981. WOAC has operated since 1996 at 5,000KW
on a visual frequency of 789.25Mhz. You can now view WOAC on it s digital channel, 47, with an average power output of 1,000KW.
WOAC now leaves the air permanently. God bless you."

That was the crawl that showed up about 5 minutes before they pulled the plug. If I don't have it word-for-word, it's still is pretty close. The crawl was going pretty fast, but it repeated several times which helped fill some gaps. Yeah, I also thought it was pretty neat to see the old WOAC 67 logo (which I didn't think existed). And yes it was for Handy Randy.

The "God Bless You" was a nice touch. I guess I was one of at least two people who stayed up to watch the ceremonial shut-off. They hit it right on the nose too, at 12:59:58. The engineer for WDLI told me a few weeks back that 12:59:58 was the time everyone was to shut off their analog signal, so WOAC went exactly by the book.

J. Moses said...

And I can confirm WSTR switched, and pretty much have the same information as Rich Emery. I'll see if I can get a capture of it today at some point, and will post it to my blog if I do.

Matt said...

Down here in Columbus;

The video seen on WTTE Fox 28 in Columbus is the NAB video in English and Spanish.

Checking here at 6:44pm, WTTE Fox 28 is still running the NAB Video then a breif slide about ending analog transmission and then the NAB video on loop.

WWHO 53 (CW) is still showing the static slide.

imee said...

Hmm. I never really noticed anything with the channels I'm getting because I've had cable TV for about 10 years now, and we aren't affected. The only thing I've noticed was that some of the stations gave out better, clearer signals... Something a friend of mine would call "crisp reception" haha.


AdamWilf said...

WAOH/29-W35AX/35 "The Cat" - is this station going digital, or are they done broadcasting now ? They had some interesting shows on every now and then. Mike Golic's "Lighter Side of Sports" and "Son of Ghoul" were a few.