On February 17, 2009, the FCC has mandated that all broadcasters in the US switch from analog to digital transmission. (As an aside, this does not mean they need to switch to HD, simply that their transmitters originate digital signals.)
This means that about a third of the viewers in the US will lose the ability to receive television – which is about the market share of over-the-air reception. (Another third is cable and the last third is satellite.) To solve this problem, viewers need to either buy a $40 converter box, or a digitally-enabled television set.
In early September, this year, the FCC supervised a roll-out of this digital switch in Wilmington, NC. For weeks, prior to the change over, stations blanketed the airways with announcements on what was going to happen. Then, at noon on that September day, FCC Commissioner Kevin Martin threw a big symbolic switch and all three over-the-air broadcasters switched from analog to digital. While the FCC described this test as successful, over the course of the afternoon over 500 people called the FCC to complain – obviously indicating that all the pre-event publicity did not reach everyone.
At the Government Video Technology Expo, Dec. 3 – 5 in Washington, DC. one of FCC commissioners spoke at the keynote to the conference. Mark Pescatore, editor of Government Video magazine and executive conference chair of GV Expo, attended the keynote. When he and I were talking afterward about this, he shared his thoughts which I wanted to share with you.
Note: Once the clip loads into your browser, you may need to press the RETURN key to start playback.
Click here to listen to Mark’s quote. TRT: 0:38 — 400 KB)
Click here to view a list of all the shows we did a GV Expo. (TRT: 1 hour — streamed)
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