Policy

ION, NBC Stations To Spearhead Analog Shut-Off Tests

10/21/2008 7:16 AM Eastern

In response to a request made by Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein, ION Media Networks, NBC Universal, Telemundo, and members of the Association of Public Television Stations, will spearhead analog shut-off tests in markets across the country, ION said Tuesday.

The so-called ASO tests—planned as temporary interruptions of the over the air signals—will take place in multiple major markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Hartford, Conn. The tests are in preparation for the Feb. 17 government mandated analog shut-off and transition to digital television.

The ASO tests, which are designed to ensure consumer DTV preparedness and a smooth transition to DTV, will begin in New York City, with a two-minute shutdown between 5:59 p.m. and 6:01 p.m. Oct. 28. 

Participating New York metropolitan area stations include: WABC – TV (ABC); WCBS – TV (CBS); WFUT – TV (Univision); WLIW – TV (PBS); WNBC – TV (NBC); WNET – TV (PBS); WNJU – TV (Telemundo); WNYE – TV (NYC Media);    WNYW – TV (Fox); WPIX – TV (The CW); WPXN – TV (ION Television); WWOR – TV (MyNetworkTV); and WXTV – TV (Univision).

Subsequent one-minute tests will take place in Los Angeles and Washington Dec. 2, and two 30-minute tests in Hartford Dec. 3. In addition, the broadcast partners will participate in existing tests being conducted across the country, including San Francisco, Philadelphia, and other areas with varied population densities and terrains.

“With a little over 100 days left to the national shutdown, it is critical that broadcasters unite, making a concerted effort to properly educate and prepare consumers well ahead of the deadline,” Brandon Burgess, chairman and CEO of ION Media Networks, said in a prepared statement. “By addressing viewers’ concerns early through these tests and our ongoing education campaign, we are ensuring that no viewer will be left behind.”

In September, ION Media and its partners extended an invitation to broadcasters, cable companies, satellite providers, and relevant broadcast associations across the country to participate in the testing and to help generate elevated consumer awareness. Participation has been strong across all designated markets; additional outreach continues and a list of upcoming markets will be announced once confirmed.

Participating stations will turn off their analog broadcasts on specified dates for varied lengths of time during the analog shut-off tests. Messaging will vary depending on the market, but may include slates and audio notifying viewers whether or not they are digitally connected.

The Metropolitan Television Alliance is establishing a consumer hotline, in close cooperation with the FCC.

“The New York broadcasters have made an enormous commitment to ensure that consumers are ready for the transition,” Alliance president Saul Shapiro said in a prepared statement. “This analog shut-off test is another major step in making sure our viewers are prepared well before February 17.”

The purpose of the shut-off tests conducted by ION Media and accompanying broadcasters is to provide real-time alerts to consumers to increase their DTV readiness and present valuable data to broadcasters, cable and satellite companies, the FCC, National Telecommunications and Information Administration and Congress about consumer and industry response.

October