Wilmington, NC: First to Make the Digitial Transition


The 49th state has been in the news lately, but we heard from the 50th state yesterday when Sen. Daniel Inouye raised the alarm that the next president could be a victim of the current administration’s handling of the digital TV transition:

“I am troubled that a bipartisan and noncontroversial public policy goal, intended to help our emergency first responders better serve and protect the American people, may end up as an albatross around the neck of our next president,” Inouye said.

The House will hold a hearing tomorrow morning on the status of the DTV transmission; the Senate will hold one next week.

This group of potential tube casualties includes a disproportionately large portion of Spanish-speaking, elderly and low-income Americans. Of the 21 million US households that rely exclusively on over-the-air television, the GAO found that almost half had incomes under $30,000 and that about 28 percent of them were Hispanic.

In advance of today’s House Commerce Committee "DTV Transition" hearing, the Consumer Electronics Association released new research findings.

According to their market research, consumer awareness of the digital-TV transition is now at 86%, up 12 percentage points from the beginning of the year. 32% of households with at least one analog-only over-the-air TV have applied for converter boxes, while another 37% know they will have to and plan to do so by year’s end. That adds up to 14 million converter boxes, the CEA said, for which the National Telecommunications and Information Administration should have enough coupons to cover.

Meanwhile, Wilmington, North Carolina last week became the first city in the U.S. to make the all digital transition, well ahead of next year’s February 17th deadline.

Those of you who may be working on the digital transition might want to follow this great blog on Wilmington’s transition, to gain a little advance insight into the stumbles and successes that Wilmington is facing with its residents in the immediate aftermath of the transition.

Local station WECT has also put up an informational page on their site, which will probably be held up as a good example for other stations to follow.

We can’t say that the "DTV Answers Booth" in Wilmington, pictured above, was overwhelmed by the curious, however.

Broadcasters certainly have their work cut out for them as the transition approaches, with lots of educating to do. Here’s a PDF from the FCC site featuring an analysis of calls from the second day of the Wilmington transition.