(Some) Analog TV Broadcasts Died This Week
As midnight arrived Tuesday night, analog television broadcasting ended on Baltimore's CW affiliate WNUV much as any other night of programming might have concluded: with a recording of "The Star-Spangled Banner," followed by a test pattern.
But a few moments afterward, an all-about-digital-TV infomercial kicked in, counseling viewers that "if you're seeing this message, this television set has not yet been updated to digital" and offering instructions on how to hook up a converter box and fine-tune your reception. Several minutes later, a Spanish-language version of this ad aired, with subtitles in both Spanish and English.
WNUV's digital signal, on channel 54.1, had to have looked a million times better than the snowy analog mess on my TV. But from 40 miles away, awful analog reception on 54 equated to nonexistent digital reception on 54.1; a tabletop antenna just couldn't pick up that signal well enough to give a Sony LCD's tuner anything to work with.
How-to shows about the DTV transition are all you can hope to watch on WNUV and the 420 other stations that terminated their analog programming by midnight Tuesday [PDF].
News reports so far point to considerable confusion before this week's partial analog shutoff -- but relatively few calls for help afterward in such locales as Ft. Myers, Fla., Minneapolis and San Diego.
(The digital transition isn't over for all the viewers of those stations -- as an overdue, interactive signal-strength map on the Federal Communications Commission's site reveals, some will upgrade their digital signals in the coming months. More technically-inclined viewers can find additional details at a volunteer-run database, RabbitEars.)
The D.C. area was largely exempt from this week's partial digital transition -- WNUV was the only early switcher to provide even a minimally watchable analog signal in my home -- but many other parts of the country saw more than one analog channel vanish from the airwaves. So how'd all that go for you? Post your own report in the comments...
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