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Digital TV switch coming early to Southeastern NC

The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday that Wilmington will be the first television market in the country to test the switch to using only digital broadcast signals. Starting at noon on September 8, all the commercial TV stations in Wilmington, including WWAY, will stop using their analog signals and broadcast only digitally.

In making the announcement, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin compared the early switch to the Wright brothers and their first airplane flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903.

"I commend the Wilmington broadcasters for their pioneer spirit to go first to help the entire country prepare for the final transition to digital on February 17, 2009," Martin said. "This experience will help us to spot issues that we need to address elsewhere in the country before next February.”

The FCC said it identified Wilmington as one of a limited number of potential test markets to test the transition because all the commercial stations in the market have already completed construction of their DTV channels and are operating at full post-transition power.

WWAY Chief Engineer Billy Stratton said the station is already prepared for the change. He said the key now is getting viewers ready. The people it will affect the most are viewers who use an antenna, including set-top rabbit ears, to get the current analog signal. Those viewers will need to buy a digital converter box or subscribe to cable or satellite service. The federal government is offering two $40 coupons per household to offset the cost of the converter boxes. To sign up for the coupons and to find out more about the conversion to digital television, visit And stay tuned to WWAY NewsChannel 3 for more information about the big switch.

Disclaimer: Comments posted on this, or any story are opinions of those people posting them, and not the views or opinions of WWAY NewsChannel 3, its management or employees. You can view our comment policy here.


Digital is really bad reception

I have been using my box for the last week and the reception is awful. I usually watch channel 3 news and I havent been able to lately because I can never get the station on the television. It says no signal most of the time and the other half of the time it has all kinds of breaks in the talking and lines then goes out. If this is digital I say file 13 (trash can ) is where it needs to go. I will use my regular antena and see if I loose my tv signal and if I dont I will keep using it. I do not have digital radio in my car so if I can get radio in my car from an antena then I should be able to still use my regular antena at home for tv.

Analog vs Digital... What About Weather Blocking Digital?

The concern is receiving uninterrupted critical TV weather coverage here during severe storms and tornado warnings. My husband is trying out a digital converter, and we can consistently receive only one station! We are able to receive 8-10 analog stations using the same antenna! But bad weather effectively blocks even that one station and we have no reception at all when using digital; analog is no problem. It is assumed that even if we are forced to buy a decibel power-gain appliance and power-up our antenna reception, we will still be without critical tornado warning broadcasts when they are needed the most as digital is blocked by heavy weather... Can you help me understand how the switch to digital is helping us stay safe? Thank you. Sharon Jones Anderson, MO 64831 USA

TV doesn't bother me one way

TV doesn't bother me one way or another. I have a computer and check out what I want to on it. We didn't get a TV until I was 8 years old and then we could only watch it on the weekends. With only 2 channels to chose to watch and nothing on either I wanted to see I didn't watch TV until I was in my teens. Then I was busy doing other things. Days go by that I don't even turn my TV on so makes no difference to me what they do.

Digital TV switch

The last paragraph states that to recieve a digital signal you must either get a digital converter box or subscribe to cable or satellite television. Well, I heard that you can also choose to get a digital television, which will broadcast over the air digital signals(unscrambled signals). That is what I am going do. My belief is that, if a station can only be seen if I have cable or satellite, then I don't really need to be seeing it.

Early Digital TV

You know how you can beat all that-cancel all cable and/or satellite tv. I don't watch any tv-no antenna, cable or satellite also I have no computer at home. I'm on a computer all day at work so if I need to know anything I look it up on the internet at work. I realize I'm saving money & I'm not missing out on anything either. Who needs American Idol!!! Absolutely boring show. Just think what big business would do if everyone cancelled their TV channels.

Bottom line, once again, it's all about $$$

This all points in the direction of the government in bed with big money once again and again and... If you haven't figured it out, this switch is not for you and me. The FCC wants to auction off the VHF (very high frequencies) and UHF (ultra high frequencies) channel allocations to the highest bidder. These frequencies have been earmarked for broadband internet, cellular telephone and private business communications. Being a happy satellite subscriber, the biggest problem that I have with this, is the secrecy about it. No doubt, there will be many of our wonderful elected officials who have been greased and will be greased for these deeds. Another hidden agenda performed behind our backs. Is this what we vote these people in office for? Big government wiping their feet on the pawns once again.


It's been quite well-known for over ten years, and it will benefit EVERYONE.

And What Planet Do You Live On?

We're out in the sticks and don't watch much TV, when we do, it's an OK signal from local stations. From what I've heard, the new format will not have the range needed to reach out here. No benefit for us! No cable nearby and satellite is too much. Benefit, my big foot!

You'll still benefit....

...from the additional services you will have access to on the portion of the RF spectrun that is being freed up by dumping analog TV. If you can't afford satellite service, have you considered simply elevating your antenna? UHF travels line-of-site, and if you can get your antenna higher, you extend the radio horizon. A directional antenna, a roll of RG-59, and a tall pine tree can work wonders without breaking the bank.


Not sure what you mean by me benefiting "from the additional services you will have access to on the portion of the RF spectrun that is being freed up by dumping analog TV." I've not heard of this, please explain? As for antenna installation, we rent. I'm positive that the landlord won't go for an antenna array. Thanks for the suggestion.

The frequencies that are being freed up....

...are going to be re-utilized by both government and private carriers. There will be more requencies available for public service users, such as police, fire, and EMS. The largest blocks, however, were auctioned off to telecommunications carriers (the government made billions), and will be used to improve broadband wireless services. This will especially benefit rural areas, because the 1900MHz PCS networks were never intended for application outside urban areas. They are too "cell tower intensive." The carriers would go broke if they tried to build enough towers to cover the rural areas. Of course, that didn't stop carriers from building out entire networks across the United States, and CLAIMING that they have wall-to-wall coverage, but as most people sadly learn, turn off a main road and you lose PCS 1900 service immediately. Twelve years after PCS launched in North Carolina, the original owners of the old A and B 800-900MHz bands still have the best overall coverage of all carriers. (That's US Cellular and Alltel in this area.) The new 700MHz channels will allow ONE tower to cover the same area as FOUR 1900 MHz towers. In addition to that, companies like Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Time Warner and others have joined in to offer new services over wireless. We're about to see a new, 4th generation wireless revolution. You may have HDTV and Internet access at your home in just a couple of years, courtesy of a totally unexpected provider and coming off a cellular tower down the road.

I'm Excited!

How wonderful! No doubt a big benefit. I'm waiting with my wallet in my hand.

You have mastered the most important learning objective!

Keep that wallet handy! Seriously, every time we have one of these major technological revolutions, it does benefit the consumer. Do you recall what cellular phone rates were like before the PCS carriers launched in the mid-Nineties? you'd pay $39.95 and get thirty minutes. After PCS showed up, the rates fell by over sixty percent. Now in your case, you're getting free TV over the air, albeit of lousy quality. As long as that's all you ever wanted, then you could argue that you won't see any benefit. But if you can get HDTV off of a local cellular tower in a few years, for less than cable or satellite cost now, you'll love will all the customers of cable and satellite, who will have to cut their rates to remain competitive.


I wouldn't go as far as calling analog TV free, after all Geico gets to put their caveman in my living room when ever they pay to do so. I'm not much on TV but it can fill in a spare moment when I cool my heals. If it goes away with digital, so does the caveman, no big loss here. It's actually their loss. As for cell phones, I had one once and I could compare it to a leash on a dog. I get a kick out of seeing those with one strapped to their side. Point is, not everyone benefits from technology. As you stated, the government will make a fortune off of selling once occupied frequencies. I am positive this will not relate to a decrease in your and my taxes. They have been selling off our national parks too, and it breaks my heart. It's been nice chatting with you, enjoy the technology, I'll enjoy nature and the show it offers. I just hope we don't get one of them towers spoiling the view. Regards,CountryBoy

Not sure what you are

Not sure what you are complaining about... digital tv has better picture quality than analog. There is no hidden agenda, the fact that the govt is going to auction off the vacated frequencies has been known for years now. This is good for everyone that enjoys watching television.


I think it's great that HDTV is here, the channels are so clear, no more fuzzy ghost pictures....I love it, I even went and bought a nice 32 inch LCD HDTV....