ION, NBCU Slate Second Round of Analog Shut-Off Tests


In preparation for the Feb. 17 digital-TV switchover, ION Media Networks – in conjunction with NBC Universal and the Association of Public Television Stations -- is conducting a second round of soft analog shut-off tests, officials said Tuesday.

The tests will take place in five major markets in early December. Los Angeles, Washington, Hartford, Conn., and Dallas will all be conducting first-time trials; while New York City will follow the success of its first soft analog shut-off test last October with a second test to ensure readiness of the nation’s largest market.

The testing will take place Dec. 2 to Dec. 4 in a range of times and durations.

“With less than 85 days until the DTV transition, it is more important than ever that broadcasters do everything in our power to make sure that the country is fully prepared to achieve DTV readiness,” John Lawson, ION’s executive vice president of policy and strategic initiatives, said in a statement. “These carefully planned exercises are alerting at-risk consumers and generating very valuable data to help guide us for the real thing in February. ION Media is proud to lead these efforts with our colleagues.”

To simulate the federally mandated shutdown of television analog signals, a voluntary group of broadcast TV stations serving the five  markets will participate in a soft-shutdown of their analog signals. The tests, ranging in length from two minutes to a half hour, will allow viewers time to determine if their television sets are DTV compatible, and if not, supplying them with the necessary resources needed to prepare for the end of analog broadcasting.

An on-screen message slate will appear across participating stations notifying audiences whether or not they are digitally connected. Should further preparation be required, a graphic will direct viewers to, the federal government’s information site about the conversion, and a designated hotline will be taking viewers’ live calls on the day of the test. Some stations have elected to include associated audio and/or message slates in other languages such as Spanish.