As we’ve said previously, the cable industry has spent the last few weeks gearing up for today’s culmination of the DTV transition. And at midday Friday, the transition itself seemed relatively uneventful. It’s an interesting day in that there’s a “rolling” transition underway, across four time zones.
If you put aside time zones and look just at “dayparts,” here are the number of stations and time of day they told the FCC they would switch off their analog signals:
- midnight to 6:00 a.m. – 186 stations
- 6 a.m. to 12 noon – 239stations
- 12 noon to 6:00 p.m. - 155 stations
- 6 p.m. to midnight – 391 stations
All things considered, the turn-off of analog seems to be going as well as could be hoped. Cable personnel in the field have reported technical issues for about 15 broadcast stations, in markets within states including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Louisiana, and West Virginia.
In most of these cases, the issues involved broadcast signals temporarily going off the air – where analog has been turned off but for some reason the digital transmission has failed. We think there has been only a minimal impact on cable subscribers. In some cases, the same broadcast stations are delivering their signals to cable “headends” through a fiber line, so even if there’s a problem with over the air transmission, the station’s signal is still getting to cable subscribers. In cases in which signals have gone down, but where that fiber feed may not be available, cable customers along with over the air viewers have temporarily lost access to those broadcast signals.
Broadcast and cable engineers have been quick to pounce on those problems, however, and most of them have been resolved in a matter of hours.
We’re keeping a close eye on the situation through a contingent of dozens of cable executives at corporate and field-based locations. Cable execs are trading email updates with an extensive list of colleagues around the country. Those same people are jumping on conference calls once a day to compare notes. We are talking regularly with FCC officials, both by email and conference calls. And we’re regularly exchanging information with our counterparts at trade associations representing broadcasters and consumer electronics manufacturers.
That same regimen will be up and running through the course of the weekend as well, so we’ll continue to post on developments as they occur. We’d be interested in knowing any of your experiences as well, so please comment away.