Copps: Wilmington Will Yield Key Data

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Washington—Federal Communications Commission Democrat Michael Copps said Tuesday that the entire nation will benefit from the lessons learned when TV stations cut off their analog signals in Wilmington, N.C. in September.

“The bottom line is that the more real world experience we can get in the next six months, the better off we'll be on February 17, 2009, when the rest of the nation hopefully goes digital,” Copps said in prepared remarks delivered at a town hall meeting in Wilmington.

The major commercial TV stations in Wilmington have agreed to turn off their analog signals at noon on Sept. 8, five months earlier than the rest of the nation's full-power stations. Copps pressed FCC chairman Kevin Martin to find an early test market that would yield real-world successes and failures in ushering in the era of all-digital broadcasting.

“In any effort of this scale, there are unknowns that no one anticipates and you find out about only when you throw that switch,” Copps said. “That's the category that really keeps me up at night.  That’s why this test is so important.”