KTTC-TV, KXLT FOX 47 to end analog broadcasting Feb. 17 - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

KTTC-TV, KXLT FOX 47 to end analog broadcasting Feb. 17

ROCHESTER, MN - (February 4, 2009) - After months of education, two major DTV transition tests, and an extensive outreach effort, KTTC-TV and KXLT Fox 47 will join a host of other broadcast television stations and stop analog broadcasting on the afternoon of February 17, 2009. The stations, both operated by Quincy Newspapers Inc., will broadcast exclusively in digital television from that point on.

This change will occur at the two television stations even though the U.S. Congress has passed an extension of the deadline to make the conversion to DTV. A DTV bill that moves the required national digital conversion date to June 12, 2009 was approved by the House on Wednesday. With Senate approval of the bill already in place, the President is expected to sign it into law in the next week to ten days. This new legislation, though, still allows for stations to convert earlier if they so choose, consistent with Federal Communications Commission rules.

"We believe our viewers are ready for the change," said Jerry Watson, Vice President and General Manager of the stations. "We have been telling them consistently about this pending change for more than six months."

Viewers on cable or satellite systems will not be affected by the change. For others who get television signals with over-the-air antennas, it will mean re-scanning their converter boxes or digital TV sets after the switch is made.

Watson said research indicates that fewer than one percent of the households in the Rochester-Austin-Mason City market are not yet prepared for the conversion from analog to digital. The stations say they will continue to answer any questions viewers might have about the digital conversion through their websites or via phone calls to the stations during business hours.

The engineering staffs of the stations have been assisting viewers with answers to their personal questions since September of 2008. On Sept. 29, both stations conducted the first of two elaborate "transition tests" to show viewers which TV sets were not ready for the change to digital television. The tests were repeated on January 21, 2009, to again provide a vivid demonstration for viewers on whether they were ready for the change.

The actual change to DTV will occur at different times on the two Rochester-based network affiliates. Watson says the first to make the change will be KXLT Fox 47, which will cease normal analog programming at 12 noon on Feb. 17th. KXLT's normal programming will continue on its current digital channel, where the station's DTV signal has been located since 2004.

Information about the DTV change will continue on the KXLT analog signal throughout the rest of the day on Feb. 17 for both stations.

Watson says the change to digital TV on KTTC will come during the afternoon. The KTTC NewsCenter will broadcast information about the change during the NBC affiliate's 12 noon newscast, and also just prior to the change, at 1:30 p.m. Following the news alert to viewers watching at that time, KTTC's analog transmitter will be powered down at approximately 1:35 p.m. Because technical changes will have to be made in the station's digital signal path, it will not be until about 3:30 p.m. that KTTC-DT will resume normal broadcasting.

"We're eagerly looking forward to this moment," said Watson. "The quality of the new digital television picture will be an amazing improvement for viewers."

Many other broadcast stations will also halt analog broadcasting some time during the day on February 17, which was the date set years ago by Congress as the time that digital broadcasting must begin, and the analog frequency band be given to other users.  Among the other stations set to make the change on Feb. 17 in the Rochester-Austin-Mason City television market is KIMT-TV, the CBS affiliate based in Mason City.  KAAL-TV in Austin is announcing on its web site that it will also halt analog broadcasting Feb. 17 and will begin using two digital channels to cover its signal area beginning on Feb. 18.  Public broadcasters in both Iowa and Minnesota have decided to continue broadcasting in analog for the time being.  Duluth CBS and NBC affiliates KDLH and KBJR say they're ending analog broadcasting Feb. 17.  Other stations in Minnesota already made the switch. FOX affiliates KQDS in Duluth, KVRR in Fargo-Moorhead, and KBRR in Thief River Falls made the switch on Feb. 1. NBC affiliate KRII in Chisholm ended analog broadcasting on Jan. 6.

The U.S. Congress had ordered television stations to stop broadcasting analog signals on February 17, 2009, and to get ready for that date, KTTC-TV has been broadcasting a digital television signal since September, 2000, and KXLT Fox 47 since May of 2004.

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