One Week And Counting

By: Michael Riddle
By: Michael Riddle

The time has finally arrived for the digital switch. In less than one week's time we will shut down WITN's analog transmitter for the final time and you will only be able to watch WITN's digital signal.

In one week WITN’s analog, channel 7 transmission will bid adieu to eastern North Carolina.

You’ve heard about the transition to digital television, ad nauseam, for many months now. On Friday, June 12th  at 12:30pm we will put the proverbial “pedal to the medal” as we pull the switch on WITN’s analog transmitter and cease broadcasting over VHF channel 7 forever.
At that time we will know for sure just how many people in our viewing area have access to WITN’s digital television signal via cable, satellite or antenna. Nielsen Media Research tells us that as of May 24th about 2.7% of the country was still unprepared for digital television. Another 8.6% were partially ready, having one, but not all televisions, receiving digital. If the numbers are correct, that would mean that around 8,000 viewers in eastern North Carolina may no longer receive any television service.
It’s been a long ride for our analog signal. WITN first signed on-the-air on September 28, 1955 almost 54 years ago, just in time for the World Series. Imagine that, a World Series game in September!
Over the years the WITN signal has emanated from progressively taller antennas and several different transmitters located in Grifton.  Since June of 2006 WITN has also simulcast a digital signal from the same tower and transmitter building. We started out broadcasting at 50% power, but now broadcast at our fully licensed power in digital. The big change is that WITN has been assigned a UHF channel for digital broadcasting, and we will remain on that same channel in the future.
If you are a cable or satellite customer, you have been watching WITN’s digital signal since the beginning of the year. The cable and satellite companies were planning for the switch to digital, originally scheduled to occur in February, so they took care of business by January. If you have a digital television or a digital converter that works, you are also ready.  However, you will find that on June 13th you will need to rescan to get some stations that are changing digital channels, but that does affect WITN.  Since we are staying on the same channel, if you’re busy, lazy, or just not sure how to re-scan you will still receive WITN. That means you can watch us all day long…. and we are fine with that!
If you’re not ready, don’t despair. The FCC has made this digital switch a top priority. They are dispatching employees across the country to help consumers with the change. The FCC went to Congress last week and had additional funds appropriated for this effort. In addition they have hired local companies to assist those in need with installation of digital converters and antennas. Call the FCC hotline at: 1-888-CALL FCC or 1-888-225-5332 and an operator will point you in the right direction. 
If you need a Digital Converter Coupon, there should still be some available. Digital converters will also continue to be available in stores. Last week Target advertised a Digital Converter on sale for $40. With a government Digital Converter Coupon that would make your final cost $0, with you only needing to pay the sales tax on the box.
We are also here to help……… just remember, WITN will now broadcast on the UHF band, so make sure that you are using an antenna that can receive UHF signals. 
If you need help, call the FCC, call WITN, or e-mail us at dtv@witn.com and we will do our best to help you make the transition, as smooth and easy as possible!
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