Six Months and Counting

By: Michael Riddle
By: Michael Riddle

We are now six months away from the date when analog broadcasts of WITN will cease. The Federal Communications Commission has set February 17, 2009 as the date when all broadcasters MUST shut off their analog transmitters and broadcast in digital only.

The Digital Transition is coming and it's coming soon! WITN will be required to shut off our analog transmitter on February 17, 2009 and only broadcast on our digital transmitter. That means that you will no longer be able to receive our analog signal on VHF channel 7. As I said in the latest "Just Ask Mike" segment on WITN 7 News, if you receive WITN via cable or satellite, you have nothing to worry about. The cable and satellite companies have been preparing for the digital transition. They have been conducting tests and they are ready to receive our digital signal and then down-convert that signal and deliver it to you the same way that you are receiving it right now. The only difference is that you should notice that the picture looks clearer and sharper. A digital picture is almost perfect, duplicating the picture that we produce in our studio. So with digital you get 100% of our signal ... or you get nothing. There is no in-between... no noisy or fuzzy signal. The viewers that will be affected by the Digital Transition are those that watch WITN using a home antenna. Your older, analog television set will not be able to pick up WITN-DT (digital) unless you obtain a digital converter box. If you have a newer television, it's probably capable of tuning in digital broadcasts as the FCC (Federal Communication Commission) has been requiring manufacturers to build sets with digital tuners for a couple of years. The government is prepared to help you. They have established a TV Converter Box coupon program. Each household is entitled to two coupons. The coupons are worth $40 and with the average converter costing around $50 - $60 that lowers your cost to less than $20. You have to apply for the coupons and it takes a couple weeks for them to arrive in the mail, so don't wait! Since you are probably reading this on the Internet, that offers the easiest way to apply for a coupon. Go to the website and click on the link. You can fill in the blanks, hit the APPLY button and you are all set. If you would rather call, there is an 800 phone number, or you can write for an application and then mail or fax it in. Here are the links and addresses for TV Converter Box Coupons: web: www.dtv2009.org phone: 1-888-DTV-2009 (1-888-388-2009) 1-877-388-4632 (For Deaf or Hard of Hearing callers) mail: P.O. Box 2000 Portland, OR 97208 I have gotten several e-mails from viewers talking about reception problems with the digital signals. Remember, with digital broadcasts you get a perfect picture or you get nothing at all. Here's my best rule of thumb for antenna reception: If you live within 20 - 25 miles of our transmitter in Grifton, then you will probably pick us up with an indoor (amplified) antenna. You may have to move the antenna around, depending upon the construction of your home... newer home construction sometimes blocks signals. WITN-DT is broadcast on digital UHF channel 32 (even though it displays on your TV set as 7.1), so you need an antenna that does a good job picking up UHF signals. WITN will be required to remain on channel 32 after February 17, 2009, so be sure you have a good UHF antenna. If you live farther away, you are going to need a roof-top or attic mounted antenna. If you get a directional antenna and point it towards Grifton, you will get the best results. The converters are easy to use. They operate much like a DVD player. You attach the antenna and then you can run a coaxial cable to your television and set it on either channel 3 or 4 and then tune in the over-the-air signals with the digital converter box. You can also run RCA wires from the converter to the back of your TV. You will find three cables and three plugs colored Yellow, Red and White. One is for video the other two are your audio feeds. Change you TV input to these plugs and then tune the channels on the converter. Don't delay if you need a converter. We have been transmitting WITN-DT for a couple of years now, so you can switch at any time, you don't have to wait until February 17, 2009!
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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Ed Location: Brevard on Dec 22, 2008 at 08:57 AM
    UNC does not multicast all five subs here on Ch 33. Does anyone know if they will after the transition?
  • by Don Location: New Bern on Sep 19, 2008 at 05:04 AM
    I question whether WITN is ready for digital. Several months ago I complained to WITN about this problem, but it still persists: sound variations/fluctuations and an occasional stuttering sound. It has become so annoying that we don't watch channel 708. WITN's response to my previous complaint indicated that it was a problem with Suddenlink's Scientific Atlantic cable box and WITN was working on the problem. Since the problem still persists, is this a WITN problem or should I be complaining to Suddenlink? If this isn't fixed by 2/2006, we'll certainly miss watching WITN.
  • by Bill Location: Williamston, NC on Sep 8, 2008 at 12:04 PM
    In my location I depend on my home antenna to receive NBC, CBS, and public TV digital signals, while I can receive the analog signal only for ABC and FOX. I'm wondering what my options will be after Febuary and if there are others facing a similar situation? In my case, ABC and FOX may say location is the problem while I will suggest the probem lies within the strength of their digital signal. I hope that myself and possibly others will not be required to either subscribe to cable or satellite in order to receive the ABC and FOX digital signals or have to pay extra to include local channels in our existing cable or satellite packages. Thanks in advance for your time and effort. Bill Thanks for your time.
  • by Jerry Location: New Bern, N.C. on Sep 5, 2008 at 03:07 AM
    If this is something the Government is mandating they should have to pay for the boxes
  • by Scott Location: Greenville on Sep 3, 2008 at 06:19 PM
    Patrick, WITN is too busy spending their money on webcams and can't afford to go to HD.

    Editor's Note: We have been broadcasting in HD for years.

  • by Patrick Location: Greenville on Sep 1, 2008 at 07:21 PM
    Speaking of high definition, when does WITN plan to upgrade their local broadcast to HD. I understand it's expensive to upgrade all your cameras and video mixing equipment, but is there a timeline for this? WRAL has already done this and it looks amazing.
  • by Jamie Location: Washington on Aug 22, 2008 at 04:41 PM
    Digital tv may not effect you, but some folks will be effected. TV viewers that do not rely on cable or satellite will have to get digital by feb or they will be without tv. Digital tv gives better picture and sound and even more channels. Stations can multicast and offer up to 3-4 channels. Most stations are broadcasting atleast 2 digital channels, 1 HD and 1 SD. Some offer 1 HD and 2 SD, and some offer 3-4 SD channels. UNC offers UNCTV, UNCHD, UNC KIDS, UNC EDUCATION, UNC NC. TV has come along way from the days of the big 3. The best thing about digital is HDTV. I have Directv and use OTA for HD, and the additional local sub channels, WITN WEATHER 7.2, The CW 9.2, ENCTV 12.3. Directv HD systems intergrate digital locals into the system. Digital tv also allows me to get channels from Raleigh. WRAL(2), WNCN(3), WTVD(3), WRAZ(3), WRAY(1), WRDC(1), WLFL(1)channels. So for antenna watchers, now when the presidents on, youll have more to watch. Flip to the sub channels.
  • by David Location: Greenville on Aug 21, 2008 at 04:49 PM
    Why is this such a big deal? Who cares about the Digital Transition??
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