Analog TV: Not Dead Yet

The FCC has just proposed a new rule - one that will drag out the analog/digital transition for another 30 days. This "Analog Nightlight" program is actually quite interesting.  Some full-power stations will be permitted to use the outgoing bandwidth to provide public safety and more information about the digital transition.

This is similar to what one of my local Atlanta stations did. They performed a test, and said that if viewers could see the message, they needed help to get the proper equipment to view digital signals going forward.

What gave the FCC this idea?

When Wilmington, North Carolina did their test of the transition, unprepared viewers of analog TV saw this message:

At 12 noon on September 8, 2008, commercial television stations in Wilmington, North Carolina began to broadcast programming exclusively in a digital format. If you are viewing this message, this television set has not yet been upgraded to digital. To receive your television signals, upgrade to digital now with a converter box, a new TV set with a digital (ATSC) tuner or by subscribing to a pay service like cable or satellite. For more information call: 1-877-DTV-0908 or TTY: 1-866-644-0908 or visit

After seeing the success of this, the FCC thought the "nightlight" was a good idea. But, problems with interference is forcing this onto just 136 of the country's networks.

While it's about time to pull the plug, a short-lived safety net can't hurt. —Leslie Shapiro