Thursday, June 11, 2009

On The Night Before DTV

...there were some clarifications, some changes, and more testing...

(Bet you thought we were going for the "not even a mouse" line! Maybe closer to December...)

YOUNGSTOWN LINES UP: After waiting all week, we've finally learned what time all Youngstown market stations will turn off their analog signals.

We previously learned that Vindicator NBC affiliate WFMJ/21 would wait until 11:59 PM Friday night to shut off that venerable analog channel 21.

The other two commercial stations in Youngstown, CBS affiliate WKBN-TV/27 and ABC affiliate WYTV/33, are under the common control of New Vision Television, which owns WKBN-TV and runs WYTV under a shared services agreement we've talked about many times.

And thus, as expected, both stations will drop analog signals at the same time - 12:05 PM Friday.

From an announcement put up this afternoon on the WKBN-TV "27 First News" website, mirrored over on the WYTV side of the New Vision web house:

At five minutes past noon on Friday June 12, 2009, both WKBN-TV and WYTV-TV will turn off their analog transmitters.

It's pretty non-eventful in the Mahoning Valley, as all that needs to be done is turn off analog 21, analog 27 and analog 33. It's no less historic, of course, because all three analog stations have been serving Valley viewers for matter how good their digital replacements are.

The announcement is actually pretty straightforward in pointing out that WYTV's digital signal may cause viewers problems:

WYTV has a new transmitter installed which will dramatically increase its signal strength. As of now, we are awaiting government approval to finish the tower construction and turn it on to full power. If you are having difficulty receiving 33.1, 33.2 and 33.3 despite trying the tactics described above, the problem may be solved as soon as the new transmitter is finished.

The only "flash cut" in the Youngstown TV market has already been done. Western Reserve PBS Youngstown market station WNEO/45 Alliance did it back in November, and is already on the full-power maximized version of digital 45...

Those with only analog tuners in Youngstown, after 12:05 PM tomorrow, will see at least one network New Vision Fox affiliates WYFX-LP 62 Youngstown/WFXI-CA 17 Mercer PA are not affected by the transition, being low power stations.

At this point, though, viewers are more likely to pick up "Fox Youngstown" either on cable, or on the HD-equipped WKBN-DT/27.2 subchannel.

(We don't know if TBN's translator in the market will flip to digital yet, and as far as we know, Western Reserve PBS" Youngstown fill-in translator, W58AM, is still off the air in either format.)

TOLEDO CHANGES: If you were planning on watching the end of analog full-power TV in the Toledo market by staying up all night, you'll apparently get a nap.

Three of Toledo's full power stations have been planning to turn off analog signals in the overnight hours, from 12:07 AM for ABC O&O WTVG/13 to 4:25 AM for Raycom CBS affiliate WTOL/11.

Barrington NBC affiliate WNWO/24 was in that mix, and was scheduled to shut off analog 24 right in the middle of the other two stations' times- at 2:05 AM.

But OMW hears from a reader in the Toledo market that "NBC24" announced that it was putting off the early Friday switch until just before midnight Friday night, for one reason: concern that Detroit Red Wings fans would miss game 7 of the NHL's Stanley Cup Finals.

The series is being carried by NBC, of course, and in case you don't know, Toledo may as well be a suburb of Detroit for these purposes. (We wonder if that's why NBC's Youngstown market affiliate, WFMJ/21, has also announced a late Friday switch...we presume there are a lot of Pittsburgh Penguins fans in that market.)

WTOL and WTVG are the two stations in the Toledo market "flash cutting" digital on their old analog channels, and maybe they want some breathing room for calls by doing the actual switch in the post-midnight or early morning hours.

Last we heard, LIN Fox affiliate WUPW/36 will become the last full-power analog station in the Toledo market to go off the air, with a 10 AM shutoff planned. Analog only tuners will still get MyNetwork TV low-power affiliate WMNT-CA/48 after that.

And no, we have no idea what religious WLMB/40 is doing...

NO, JUST A TEST: The story is pretty much told in our Twitter updates, which appear on the main OMW blog to the left of the items themselves.

But in case you haven't seen - for a while, Western Reserve PBS' WEAO-DT 49.3 lit up this afternoon, carrying the "MHZ Worldview" programming the station announced earlier this week.

Not yet, say station officials...they were just testing 49.3, which will light up for good after midnight Friday night/Saturday morning.

At that time, 49.2 will shut off the SD simulcast of the main Western Reserve PBS channel, and will carry the national "Classic Arts Showcase" until the locally-programmed "Fusion" arts/culture channel launches later this summer.

We'll assume folks picking up WNEO-DT saw the same behavior on 45.3 today...

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