First digital TV market goes live next week

Wilmington, N.C., next Monday will be the first city in the U.S. to make the switch to digital TV as Federal Communication Commission officials and local broadcasters conduct the first widespread test of the conversion to digital TV.

At noon, TV broadcasters throughout the Wilmington area will shut off their old analog TV signals and broadcast only in digital, providing the first real test of the mandated switch to digital TV. Congress has mandated that all TV broadcasters switch to digital broadcast in February. In an effort to help test the switch for the rest of the country, Wilmington is making the switch five months early.

Once the switch happens, old TV sets that rely on over-the-air analog TV signals will no longer work.

The transition is expected to affect more than 15 percent of U.S. households, which rely on free TV broadcasts. Wilmington is actually in better shape than most communities with only 7 percent of its households, or roughly 12,600 homes, being affected by the switch.

I have a few friends who expect widespread panic.

I figure the least-informed will presume their set died – go out and buy a new one – and will come home with a digital set that works and never realize what happened.

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