DTV warnings block NASCAR - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

DTV warnings block NASCAR


ROCHESTER, MN (FOX 47) --You've been receiving over-the-air warnings about digital television for about a year now, but lately the warnings may seem to appear too much. On Sunday, NASCAR fans were not too pleased about a digital crawl covering up part of the screen in the NASCAR race.

Any person would be annoyed at having to watch a crawling ticker over their favorite programing, but for those looking forward to the biggest day for NASCAR, the warnings went a little too far. The fact is, television stations do not have a say in the matter. They are required to do this as set by the Federal Communications Commission.

DTV warnings have flooded the screens since the beginning of last year, informing viewers of the switch to digital transmission from analog. While the warning crawls appeared every once in a while, they are now on the television screens with full force.

"For the last week of your analog broadcast service, the crawls had to constitute 5 minutes an hour of the 24 hour broadcast day," explains FOX 47 production manager, Brendan Ford.

Then for the last 48 hours of service, which began on Sunday, 5 minutes doubled to 10 minutes an hour for a 24 hour day. And it's not just during any part of the day. It's when most people are watching, so no commercials.

"Our crawls runs roughly 2 minutes and 20 seconds," Ford says. "So in order to get 10 minutes worth of that, we had to run it about 5 times an hour."

It just so happened that the increased warnings came the day of NASCAR's Daytona 500, one of the most exciting races for racecar fans. FOX 47, broadcast the race and many viewers called-in, frustrated by the warnings covering up the place order of the drivers.

"I was with these people, I mean I didn't want to be answering the phone for 4 hours straight, but it's something that we have to do. We don't want our viewers being mad at us, but it's what we have to do," exclaimed Crystal Oko, FOX 47's weekend anchor.

"This was their mandate, not our choice," explains Ford. "If we chose to do it, we would have chose not to do it, or we would have chose to do it differently. But we didn't have an option in the matter."

Despite Congress pushing back the mandatory digital transition date by 6 months, FOX 47 continue with the original date February 17th.

Now there's some good news and bad news. Bad news: the DTV crawls won't go away after the switch. They'll continue to tell digital viewers that you're watching digital TV until March 31st.  Good news: the FCC might make some changes to those rules.

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