Despite 'delay,' DTV transition starts today

Despite a much-publicized "delay," about one-third of the nation's analog TV stations will go all-digital, pulling the plug on their analog towers, by the end of Tuesday.

analog TV with snow

Just last week, President Obama signed the DTV Delay Act into law. But despite appearances, the delay isn't mandatory: about one-third (650-plus) of the nation's TV stations will be pulling the plug on their analog towers by the end of Tuesday. The remaining stations will be taking advantage of the new legislation, transitioning to digital between March 14 and June 12.

Which stations are switching early? An updated document at the FCC's DTV Web site will let you know which (if any) stations are in your area (PDF). Here in New York--as in most large metro areas--no stations are transitioning early. But those of you with antennas in smaller or rural markets may begin to see stations blink out in the next 24 hours, if they haven't already.

Remember: anyone with cable, fiber, or satellite TV service shouldn't see any disruption in service. Likewise, anyone with an antenna attached to their DTV or DTV converter box should be up and running on the digital versions of their local stations. (See a side-by-side comparison of analog and digital broadcasts during New York City's October 2008 analog shut-off test , for example.)

Meanwhile, some analog stations will be running a "night light" service for the next few weeks--basically a public-service announcement confirming that antenna viewers need to get a DTV converter box if they wish to continue receiving the channel. (My take: if the FCC had mandated a more aggressive version of this sort of on-screen reminder months ago, people would've been better informed, and no delay would've been necessary.)

Anyone who still has questions can read the in-depth CNET Guide to the DTV Transition.

Frustrated or confused by the nondelay delay of the DTV switch? Sound off below.

About the author

John P. Falcone is the executive editor of CNET Reviews, where he coordinates a group of more than 20 editors and writers based in New York and San Francisco as they cover the latest and greatest products in consumer technology. He's been a CNET editor since 2003.

 

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