Entries in Television Category

Televison: Newsmakers Jan. 6, 2009

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TV Week:

In a new challenge to the digital TV transition, the government's program offering $40 coupons for TV converter boxes is out of money, weeks sooner than anyone expected. The Department of Commerce today announced that it has committed the entire $1.34 billion available for the coupons and is starting to put new requests on a waiting list. It was just two weeks ago that Meredith Atwell Baker, acting assistant secretary of the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration, warned U.S. Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee's telecom panel, that the $1.5 billion set aside for the coupon program might run short of requests. That wasn't expected to happen immediately. A blitz of media stories over the Christmas holidays, however, brought in a flood of requests. Ms. Atwell Baker had warned Mr. Markey that although a third or more of coupons haven't been redeemed, the way the program is structured could force it to delay sending out new coupons. The government sets aside money for any coupons issued during the 90 days they can be redeemed; Ms. Atwell Baker's worry was that the agency might have to temporarily stop issuing new coupons. At a news conference this afternoon, Ms. Atwell Baker suggested the coupon program was a victim of its own success. She cited a "massive spike" in December that brought requests for 7.2 million coupons rather than for the 4.3 million that NTIA expected... Digital TV Coupon Program Runs Out of Money (Mon, 1/5)

 

Television: Newsmakers Jan. 10, 2009

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Michigan Association of Broadcasters offers updates on DTV transition

As of January 6, 2,038,940 converter box coupons have been requested in Michigan. 871,810 coupons have been redeemed in the state, a 42.75% redemption rate.

DTV Town Hall Meeting to Feature FCC Commissioner: Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael Copps along with Congressman John Conyers (D-15th) will be on hand at a Town Hall meeting to be held at Wayne County Community College's downtown campus at 1001 W. Fort St on Monday January 12th at 11:00 AM.

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters and local television stations will co-host the event. The meeting is free to the public and will include a demonstration on how to hook up a converter box. Local television engineers will be available to answer individual questions pertaining to their stations.

The purpose of the Town Hall meeting is to help Metro area citizens learn important information about preparedness for the digital transition.

This is your chance to ask questions of the very people who are in charge of the digital transition. Don't miss this opportunity. Click here for a map.

For more information on the DTV Town Hall Meeting or to ask questions about the digital transition, call the Michigan DTV Helpline, sponsored by Don-Lors Electronics at 888-643-8809.

 


 

Broadcasting & Cable:

The waiting list for converter box coupons continues to grow, and the prospects for clearing out the backlog without swift congressional action appear slim to none. According to the latest figures from the National Telecommunications & Information Administration, there are more than 1.35 million requests for DTV-to-analog converter-box coupons on its waiting list, with hundreds of thousands more coming in every day. NTIA began the waiting list last Sunday, when it hit its $1.34 billion ceiling on funding for the program, which issues $40 coupons toward the purchase of DTV-to-analog converter boxes that allow viewers of over-the-air analog TV signals to continue to receive a picture after those signals go digital on Feb. 17--or not, depending on current efforts to delay that date. According to NTIA spokesman Todd Sedmak, 325,000 people on that list have been sent their coupons, which happens after a new batch of coupons expires and the money is freed up... Waiting List For DTV Coupons Continues To Grow (Fri, 1/9)

 


 

Detroit Free Press:

We're now just over a month out from the big transition to all digital TV broadcasts. If President-elect Barack Obama can't persuade Congress to delay the Feb. 17 start date, as many as 100,000 Detroit-area consumers may find themselves unable to watch television on their old sets. Obama asked Congress on Thursday to postpone the analog-to-digital shift, arguing that too many Americans still aren't ready for it. Congress set the date, so it would have to pass a new law to delay it. Delay or not, it's hard to conceive that people haven't received the message yet, what with nonstop TV announcements, weekly tests that show whether your television is ready for the DTV transition and more than a year of news reports and announcements... Digital TV move may leave many in dark (Sat, 1/10)

 


 

Grand Rapids Press:

Dave Miller, 84, knew better than to bother with the coupon. With the conversion from analog to digital TV broadcasts looming, the Lowell man took his son's advice and upgraded to a digital-ready TV and a 50-channel cable package. "Sons have a way of seeing that the old people get what they need," Miller said Friday while relaxing at the Lowell Senior Center. "I'm not really sharp on this stuff." He is not alone, and the government may act to make sure everyone is prepared. President-elect Barack Obama is urging Congress to postpone the Feb. 17 switch from analog to digital television broadcasting, arguing too many Americans who rely on analog TV sets to pick up over-the-air channels will not be ready... Lawmakers consider delaying digital TV transition after coupons for converter boxes run out (Sat, 1/10)

 


 

Jackson Citizen-Patriot:

With AT&T's cable-television service now available in the area, an expert suggests consumers do their homework before choosing service providers. "Consumers have to become much more educated and really make a careful choice," said Johannes Bauer, a professor of telecommunications, information studies and media at Michigan State University... Cable competition means consumers must look at all their options (Sat, 1/10)

 

Mid-Michigan: Newsmakers Jan. 18, 2009

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Bay City Times:

Television repairman Robert "Alan" Anderson hears his telephone ringing a lot these days. Folks want to know if their TV sets will work when broadcasters switch to an all-digital format on Feb. 17, said Anderson, owner of Alan's Repair, 1304 Kosciuszko Ave. "People are asking the obvious question - 'Is my TV ready and how do I get one of those (converter) boxes?'" Anderson said. Here's the short answer: • People with cable television service are OK. • People with satellite television service are OK, if they get their local channels from the satellite service. • People who use an antenna or set-top "rabbit ears" to receive local TV stations must buy a digital converter box... Read on to make sure you're set for digital TV conversion (Sun, 1/18)

 

Television: Newsmakers Jan. 25, 2009

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Detroit News:

Michigan environmentalists, electronic waste haulers and recyclers are fearing an e-waste explosion. Up to 1 million TV sets -- toxic chemicals and all -- could be headed for Michigan landfills as consumers ramp up TV purchases before the nation's television stations are scheduled to convert to digital transmission Feb. 17. A delay is possible. The U.S. Senate appeared close to agreement late Thursday on a bill to delay the planned transition to June 12 -- setting the stage for a vote early next week. President Barack Obama earlier this month called for postponement. While many TV owners will keep their analog sets and use a converter box to capture the digital signal, others are using the switchover as an excuse to dump their old sets and upgrade to plasma screen or high definition sets with a digital converter inside. With each U.S. household having an average of 2.8 sets, according to 2007 U.S. census data, there is tremendous potential for an avalanche of TV trash... Trashing the tube: Digital conversion may spark glut of toxic waste (Fri, 1/23)

 


 

Kalamazoo Gazette:

The switch to digital television signaling could create an environmental nightmare across the nation as consumers get rid of their outmoded analog TV sets. But that doesn't have to be the case locally, where area residents can recycle their electronics for free. "It's easy and convenient, and we want to let people know that we're tuned in to them," said Tom Dewhirst, facility manager for Kalamazoo County Household Hazardous Waste. The organization collects electronics at least three times a week at its Lamont Avenue location in Kalamazoo. Residents may recycle up to four electronic items -- including stereos, monitors, DVDs and televisions -- a year for free. Televisions are considered two items, and console televisions are only taken if the consoles have been removed. Small electronics, however, such as cell phones, don't count toward the four free items... Recyclers ready for tons of TVs after switch to digital (Sun, 1/25)

 


 

Traverse City Record-Eagle:

Don Reed wheeled into the parking lot at the Kalkaska County Recycling Center to drop off a cardboard box that once held his new television. Reed wanted an upgraded TV and gave his old set to a friend. If he hadn't, he would have recycled it, he said. "It's better than throwing it out in the woods like some people do. It's not useful to take them to the dump," said Reed, of Kalkaska. Most electronics contain hazardous materials -- lead, mercury, cadmium, chromium, fire retardants -- and recycling centers across the region are primed to take old TV sets in preparation for next month's digital switch... Recycling centers ready for TV transition (Fri, 1/23)

 

Broadcasting & Cable:

After heated debate by legislators Wednesday and a year and a half of broadcasters, cable operators and the government drilling the Feb. 17 'hard' date into the hearts and minds of viewers, the House voted Wednesday to change the cut-off date for analog TV to June 12. The vote was 264 to 158, with more Republicans voting for the delay (23) than there were Democrats (10) going against the Obama administration and party leadership to vote against it. The vote was a victory for the new Obama administration, which pushed for the date change and got little push back from a broadcasting industry not looking to be the skunk at the new president's garden party, as one Republican put it. The vote to approve the bill came after a motion offered by Republicans was defeated that would have required the FCC to force any stations on spectrum to be reclaimed for emergency communications to pull the plug on analog on Feb. 17 as previously scheduled so that spectrum could be immediately turned over for emergency communications. That would also apply to any nearby channels whose continued analog broadcasts could intefere with that first responder spectrum ... It will now be up to broadcasters to decide when to make the switch between now and June 12, since the bill allows them to move early so long as they clear it with the FCC. The FCC said Tuesday that over a thousand stations would still be able to turn off their analog signals before June 12 if they choose to. Some stations have already indicated they are sticking with the Feb. 17 date. The FCC said it had heard from 276 stations to that effect, in addition to 143 stations that had already pulled the plug, and another 60 who said they planned to do so before Feb. 17. The FCC had pointed out that some of those 276 may change their minds once the date changes...Congress Changes DTV 'Hard' Date to June 12 (Wed, 2/4)

 

West Michigan: Newsmakers Feb. 6, 2009

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Grand Rapids Press:

Congress has authorized a delay in the shutdown of analog TV broadcasts, but that doesn't mean local TV stations have to wait. The drop-dead date for the much-publicized switch from analog to digital broadcasting has been moved from Feb. 17 to June 12. However, stations are allowed to turn off their analog signals before June if they notify the Federal Communications Commission. Stations planning to execute the full digital switch by Feb. 17 have until Monday to file notice. Fox affiliate WXMI (Channel 17) intends to proceed as planned with the switch this month. Patty Kolb, the station's general manager, said Thursday the station "most likely" would file notice and turn off its analog signal Feb. 17. Kolb said general managers of area stations planned this morning to discuss how the local market should respond to the directives of Congress and the FCC... Delay digital conversion? Grand Rapids TV stations consider choices (Fri, 2/6)

Public service announcements airing Friday morning on WXMI-TV (Channel 17) said the Fox affiliate was going ahead with a change to digital broadcast on Feb. 17, despite Congress's approval Wednesday of a bill to delay the much-publicized switch from analog to digital until June 12. But before noon, the announcements had been pulled. "There's been a lot of confusion," said General Manager Patty Kolb, who added the station is now leaning toward the June 12 date because of the number of people in the market who do not have the necessary converter boxes to receive digital broadcasts. "We have a lot of very popular shows, and we don't want any viewers to miss their favorite show," Kolb said. Kolb and spokespersons from several area stations said a final decision on whether to proceed with the Feb. 17 switch or wait won't be made until Monday, a deadline set by the Federal Communications Commission... WXMI switches directions, now considers not making Feb. 17 digital switch (Fri, 2/6)

 


 

St. Joseph Herald Palladium:

Analog broadcasting will die as scheduled for at least three stations that broadcast in Southwest Michigan, despite Congress approving a four-month reprieve Wednesday. WSJV, Channel 28 of Elkhart and WNDU, Channel 16, and WSBT, Channel 22, both of South Bend, reported Wednesday they will use only digital signals starting at 12 a.m. Feb. 17. Information on how other area stations will respond was not available Wednesday. The House voted 264-158 Wednesday to extend the digital conversion deadline to June 12 deadline, but it gave local stations the option to go ahead with the Feb. 17 conversion if they felt their markets were ready. The Senate already approved the bill, which President Barack Obama promised to sign. House and Senate leaders wanted the delay because they said the transition has not been as smooth as desired or expected for viewers. For viewers, analog's demise will mean no broadcast television unless they have digital-ready television sets or equipment for converting digital signals into analog ones. Viewers using cable and satellite services are not affected. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, voted against the bill to extend the deadline. He said the transition appears to be going well in his Southwest Michigan district... Area stations reject digital delay (Thu, 2/5)

 


 

WKZO AM:

With the digital TV transition likely delayed until June 12, broadcasters still have a chance to transition early, if they choose. WZZM channel 13 and WXMI channel 17 report they will continue to broadcast in both analog and digital until the June 12th deadline. WOOD-TV is still waiting for the president to sign the bill and for lawyers to go over it before making a decision. "The law, while it pushed the date back to June 12th, it also includes a provision that stations may go early," Mike Leamers, WOOD-TV engineer, said this week. "We're still trying to figure out what the law says, whether there'll be FCC rules that we'll have to give notice to the public before we go, so there are a few things still up in the air," Leamers said. WWMT channel 3 in Kalamazoo has yet to announce any decision, and WGVU reports it will probably wait until the others decide before they make that decision... Some Local TV Stations Plan A "Wait-and-See" on DTV Switch (Fri, 2/6)

 

Mid-Michigan: Newsmakers Feb. 6, 2009

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Flint Journal:

Doug Fisher is a radio business veteran. The longtime radio personality and talk show host knows precisely how the game is played. So when Fisher, host of "The Male Room" sports talk show on WTRX-AM (1330) and the station's program director, was called into the office after last Thursday's show, he knew what was coming. The ax. Fisher was informed that his show had been canceled and his job as program director was no more... Doug Fisher axed at WTRX-Am (1330), Era ends for 'Male Room,' says Flint Journal's Rickey Hampton (Fri, 2/6)

 


 

Lansing State Journal:

A decision by Congress to postpone the transition to digital television doesn't necessarily give viewers more time to prepare for the end of analog broadcasts. On Wednesday, when Congress postponed the mandatory transition until June, it gave stations the option to stick to the originally scheduled date of Feb. 17. WILX-TV Channel 10 still plans to make the switch that day, said Michael King, the station's vice president and general manager. "The time is now," he said. "We've run thousands of commercial messages and crawls and countdowns. We've actually done shutoffs on Tuesdays for the past 10 weeks, and we believe our audience is well prepared for the transition, so we're going to go." King said the number of those who might not be prepared for the switch is negligible. Gene Shanahan, operations manager for WLNS-TV Channel 6, said Thursday the station likely will wait until June to turn off its analog signal... WILX-TV to go digital - despite added time (Fri, 2/6)

 

Television: Newsmakers Feb. 7, 2009

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Grand Rapids Press:

"Michigan Out-of-Doors" television fans can expect programming changes this year, according to executive producer Jimmy Gretzinger. The 50-year-old program, started by outdoor television pioneer Mort Neff, is splitting from Michigan United Conservation Clubs and going independent. "It's exciting, but also scary," said Gretzinger, who has hosted the popular PBS network show for the past 10 years. Gretzinger is purchasing the show from MUCC for an undisclosed amount. The change is expected to shave an average of $40,000 a year off MUCC's operating budget. It also frees Gretzinger to expand its format. "We're going to make some stylistic changes," said Gretzinger, who plans to add a women's outdoors segment as well as one for children. The show will continue to present conservation issues and the work being done by MUCC. It will continue to air at its regular times on PBS stations around Michigan... New look for 'Michigan Out-of-Doors' TV show (Sat, 2/7)

 

Television: Newsmakers Feb. 10, 2009

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Four Michigan TV stations apply to go digital-only on Feb. 17

MyNetwork TV affiliate WMYD Detroit, Ion affiliate WPXD Ann Arbor, NBC affiliate WILX Onondaga/Lansing, and CBS affiliate WBKB TV Alpena have all applied to end their analog broadcasts on the original DTV transition date of February 17th. Before ending their analog broadcasts on that date, the stations must still receive approval from the FCC.

If approved, those stations would join PBS affiliates WFUM TV Flint, WKAR TV East Lansing, MyNetwork TV affiliate WHTV Jackson, and independent WLLA TV Kalamazoo as Michigan's only all-digital full-power television stations.

The state's other full power TV stations have decided to either wait for the new June 12th date to do their conversion or apply to make the change for sometime between Feb. 17 and June 12th.

 

In nearby markets, Toledo PBS station WGTE TV has applied to make the change to digital on February 17th, joining fellow PBS affiliate WBGU TV which has already made the move. The South Bend/Elkhart market will be all-digital if approved by the FCC with FOX affiliate WSJV TV, NBC affiliate WNDU TV, and CBS affiliate WSBT TV joining early coverts PBS affiliate WNIT TV and independent WHME TV.

 

Television: Newsmakers Feb. 12, 2009

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WBKB Alpena may not switch to digital on Feb. 17

The FCC has notified CBS affiliate WBKB TV Alpena that it will have to meet extra guidelines set by the Commission in order to cease its analog operations and broadcast digital-only on Tuesday, February 17th. Because WBKB is the only 'Big 4' affiliate in the Alpena designated market area, the FCC wants to preserve analog service for TV viewers that might not otherwise have access to local news and public affairs available over the air in the area until the new June 12th conversion date which was signed into law by President Obama late yesterday. The same situation applies in South Bend, IN, which saw all of its full power network affiliates apply go all-digital on Feb. 17.

The other three Michigan stations that have applied to go all-digital on Feb 17, Detroit's WMYD TV, Ann Arbor's WPXD TV, and Lansing's WILX TV, will apparently be allowed to pull the plug on their analog transmitters on Tuesday.

 

Television: Newsmakers Feb. 24, 2009

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Detroit News:

A consumer and local government group says Michigan should reinstate more local cable TV regulation, to hold down rates and protect public access channels. A Michigan law designed to reduce regulation and boost competition among cable TV companies took effect in 2007. But the National Association of Telecommunications Officers and Advisors said the anticipated competition and lower rates haven't materialized. And customer service, it said in a report issued Monday, has worsened. The association is urging lawmakers to correct the problems it says have been created by the law. It wants a state process for resolving customer service disputes, a requirement that cable firms treat public access channels the same as other channels and the right for local governments to collect a 2 percent fee to cover public access channels. The Michigan chapter of the organization said that since the law took effect, the number of cable TV companies increased only from 36 to 37, rates are at an all-time high and customers rate cable TV next to the bottom among services -- just above airlines... Group urges change in cable law (Tue, 2/24)

 

FOX Sports Detroit's coverage of Michigan high school championship events continues this month with the 2009 MHSAA Girls and Boys Basketball Finals on consecutive Saturdays, March 21 & 28.

The girls finals are contested March 21, at the Eastern Michigan University Convocation Center. Play-by-play announcers are John Keating (Class D & A) and Dan Gutowsky (Class C & B) and John Keating (Class C & B). Serving as analyst for all four games is Greg Kelser. Class D, A and C games are televised on FOX Sports Detroit. The Class B game is live on FOX Sports Detroit Plus, with a same-night replay on FOX Sports Detroit.

The boys championship games, held March 28 at the Breslin Center on the campus of Michigan State University in East Lansing, feature play-by-play announcers Matt Shepard (Class D & C) and Gutowsky (Class A & B), joined by analyst Tim McCormick. Class D, C and A games are televised on FOX Sports Detroit. The Class B game is live on FOX Sports Detroit Plus,with a same-night replay on FOX Sports Detroit.

This marks the 11th consecutive year that FOX Sports Detroit has aired the MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals, the 12th year in a row for the boys event.

Visit www.foxsports.com/detroit for the complete schedule and channel listings for FOX Sports Detroit +.

 

For the first time, FOX Sports Detroit's collection of channels will present simultaneous telecasts of the same game, but from two different perspectives, when the Pistons take on the Los Angeles Lakers at the Palace on Thursday, March 26. The traditional game coverage will appear on FOX Sports Detroit and in high-definition on FOX Sports Detroit HD. Meanwhile, FOX Sports Detroit PLUS presents a "Match-up Cam" telecast, with devoted cameras isolating on key battles throughout the game among the many stars on each team.

"We are looking forward to this unique, creative and compelling use of our PLUS service," said Greg Hammaren, Senior Vice President/General Manager, FOX Sports Detroit. "We hope fans that are enjoying the traditional high-quality telecast on our main service will be intrigued to sample PLUS to see an isolated view of just how hard these great athletes work during the course of a game."

Coverage on all channels begins at 6:30 PM with Pistons Insider, followed by Pistons Live at 7:00 and the game at 7:30. Game audio will be the same on all channels with play-by-play announcer George Blaha, analyst Greg Kelser, along with sideline reporters Ryan Field and Eli Zaret. Field hosts Pistons Live pregame, while Mickey York hosts the postgame edition.

For FOX Sports PLUS channel numbers, visit www.foxsports.com/detroit.

 


 

Grand Rapids Press:

If you want to watch unbeaten Catholic Central and Lakeview compete in a Class B semifinal at 6 p.m. Friday for a spot in Saturday's girls basketball state championship - and you cannot make it to Eastern Michigan University's Convocation Center - you can follow it live on the Internet. The Michigan High School Athletic Association Network will stream video of all four Class A and Class B semifinals at MHSAA.TV. Semifinal games also will be available finals for cable viewing on Comcast Channel 900, pending availability of the station's time... (Fri, 3/20)

 

George Kell, Baseball Hall of Famer and popular broadcaster dies at age 86

George Kell, Hall of Fame baseball player for the Detroit Tigers among other teams, has died at the age of 86 in his hometown of Swifton, Arkansas according to various broadcast reports. In addition to his successful playing career, Kell was also an immensely popular broadcaster for the Tigers, both on radio and television. That portion of his baseball career lasted 37 years. His most memorable broadcasting work was on TV on Channel 4 during the years he was paired with fellow hall-of-famer Al Kaline in the booth. Kell also partnered with the legendary Ernie Harwell.

Kell's playing career was from 1943-57 and he was with the Tigers from 1946-52. He also played for the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Baltimore Orioles, and Chicago White Sox and was induced into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1983. He was a career .306 hitter, won the American League batting championship in 1949, and was a 10-time All-Star.

 


 

FOX Sports Detroit to re-air 2005 special in memory of George Kell

FOX Sports Detroit joins Tigers fans everywhere in mourning the passing of Hall of Fame third baseman and longtime Tigers broadcaster George Kell.

Tune in Wednesday (7:30 & 10:00 pm) and Sunday (12:30 & 4:00 pm) for an encore presentation of the 2005 half-hour special "FSN Basement: All-Star Edition," featuring interviews with Kell and Al Kaline, each recalling their numerous All-Star Game appearances, special memories of playing for the Tigers and their several years working together in the television booth.

Also, FOX Sports Detroit announcers Mario Impemba and John Keating provided tributes to Kell:

- From Mario Impemba, Tigers play-by-play announcer, FOX Sports Detroit: "Growing up in Detroit, Mr. Kell had a big impact on my desire to become a broadcaster. He had a unique voice that featured a smooth southern charm. People knew they were watching Tigers baseball when they heard George's voice every summer."

- From John Keating, TIGERS LIVE host, FOX Sports Detroit: "One of the highlights of my broadcasting career was our trip to interview George at his home in Swifton, Arkansas.... just to talk baseball and his place in Detroit's sporting history. He was gracious and warm to those of us who were still involved with the Tigers. He still watched every Tigers game and enjoyed it with no regrets about stepping away from the broadcast booth. To those of us who grew up with George and Al and Ernie and Paul Carey, they shaped the standard for broadcasting sports in our town. It is less of a 'bright and sunshiny day' in Michigan."

 


 

WDET's Town Hall Meeting with Robert Bobb scheduled for tomorrow, Wednesday, March 25, 2009, has been canceled due to a personal emergency. Mr. Bobb asked WDET to reschedule the Town Hall Meeting to a later date, but is still expected to take place at the Community Arts Auditorium of Wayne State University, as previously planned. Listen to 101.9 WDET for information about the new date of the Town Hall Meeting with Robert Bobb and check back to www.wdet.org for updated details.

 

Mt. Pleasant Morning Sun

At noon Tuesday, Mt. Pleasant's Channel 14 will go off the air forever. Sort of. Central Michigan University Public Broadcasting will cease analog telecasts today, more than a month behind the original digital deadline, but more than two months ahead of the final June date for all analog telecasting to end. Besides ending analog telecasts on Channel 14, CMU Public Television also will shut down its satellite stations across northern Michigan on channels 6, 21, 27, 46 and 69. Digital broadcasts, which began in the early part of the decade, will continue, said Rick Schudiske, WCMU's assistant general manager. People with cable or satellite shouldn't see any change, not will people who have hooked up their digital converter boxes. "We've decided to go ahead and shut down our analog signal because we hadn't budgeted for the approximately extra $10,000 a month it would cost to continue simulcasting until the new federally-mandated June deadline-especially given Michigan's economy right now," Schudiske said. "The original analog shut-off was February 17th and we are hopeful by keeping the analog stations on through March that all of our viewers will be ready"... CMU TV to complete digital transition (Mon, 3/30)

 

As part of its bankruptcy proceedings, Equity Media Holdings has auctioned off a number of its television stations, including the Marquette FOX affiliate and low power outlets in Detroit and Grand Rapids.

FOX affiliate WMQF TV 19 Marquette is Equity's only full-power station in Michigan and will be dealt to an organization identified only as MMMC for $100,000.

Religious operator Daystar Television Network will be acquiring low-power stations WUDT-CA Ch. 23 Detroit, currently an affiliate of the Spanish-language Univision network, and WUHQ-LP Ch. 29 Grand Rapids, current an affiliate of Spanish-language LAT TV as part of a 15-station agreement valued at $7.4 million.

The sales will need to clear hurdles through both bankruptcy court and with federal regulators.

 

The University of Michigan plans to discontinue operating Michigan Television (WFUM-TV/Flint) because of shortfalls in revenue since 2005 and the need to control the university's costs in the face of the continuing economic downturn.

Member contributions from viewers, along with support from area businesses and foundations, have traditionally provided the largest source of funding for Michigan Television.

Over the past two years, the station has experienced a 28 percent decline in member support and business underwriting revenue. The station has also been obligated to make significant capital expenditures over the past several years related to the federally mandated conversion to digital television, which the station completed in November, 2008.

A careful review of future revenue prospects showed that shortfalls were likely to continue, leading to sustained operational losses.

The university hopes to transition operation of the station to another entity, and is currently in discussions with other parties on the possibility of assuming operation and/or ownership. There are no immediate changes planned in the station's program schedule.

>"We have been grateful for the support of our viewers and donors, and the dedication of our staff, but unfortunately WFUM-TV has not been able to sustain itself financially, like many other businesses in this tough economy," said David Lampe, vice president of communications at U-M. "And over the last several years, the university has been under growing pressure to reduce costs wherever it can in order to maintain its core commitment to the quality and accessibility of a U-M education. Under these circumstances, we decided it was best to withdraw from the public television business."

As part of its on-going fiscal management process, the university has recently announced several measures intended to cut costs, including restructuring the University Press, decreasing its share of employee health benefit costs, consolidating its central IT operations, and cutting back on non-patient care positions in the Health System.

"This is a painful decision and we understand how it will affect our staff as well as the supportive Flint community, but we didn't see any way to make it work," Lampe said.

WFUM-TV first began broadcasting in August 1980, and has offices and studios on the University of Michigan-Flint campus. Michigan Television (WFUM-TV) broadcasts over digital channel 28, and is available on cable systems throughout mid and southeastern Michigan. The station has an estimated viewing audience of approximately 200,000 viewers per week.

Michigan Television is operated by Michigan Public Media, which also operates Michigan Radio, an NPR news station; Michigan Channel, a cable channel featuring programming from the University of Michigan and other research universities; and Michigan Productions, a video production unit. Operations of those units are not expected to be affected by this decision.

 

Michigan broadcasters will participate in a cooperative nationwide effort by conducting local "soft tests" to check to see if television viewers are prepared for the impending digital television transition. The tests will take place on Thursday, May 21, 2009 and are part of a concerted effort to make sure all citizens are prepared to make the transition on June 12, 2009.

Each television market in the state has worked together to coordinate a uniform time when the majority of stations will simulate (soft test) turning off their analog signal so citizens can check to see if they are ready to make the transition to digital TV. Additionally, many stations who have already transitioned or those who are technically unable to perform the simulation will run messages along the bottom of their screens to inform viewers of the test being conducted.

"Michigan television stations are to be congratulated for their continued efforts to best serve their communities," said Karole White, President and CEO of the Michigan Association of Broadcasters. "Our television broadcasters give a prime example of the cooperative efforts going on all over the nation in an effort to see that no viewer is left behind in the digital transition of television."

The federal government has mandated that all full-power analog TV stations shutdown their analog signals and broadcast only in a digital format after June 12, 2009. Viewers who watch TV on an analog set and that use an outdoor antenna or rabbit ears must act if they want to continue to receive free television after the transition date. One option is to install a converter box on your analog TV, which will convert the digital signal to analog. Viewers who have a paid TV service, such as cable or satellite, do not need to take any action because their provider will make the change for them.

Soft Test Times:

Detroit Metro Market: 12:25 p.m. (individual stations may run additional soft tests at 7:25 a.m. and 6:25 p.m.)

West Michigan Market: 12:25 & 6:25 p.m.

Lansing/Jackson Market: 12:25 p.m. (individual stations may run additional soft tests at 7:25 a.m. and 6:25 p.m.)

Flint/Tri-Cities Market: 7:25 a.m. & 6:25 p.m. (individual stations may run an additional soft test at 12:25 p.m.

Note: WSMH-TV will make the digital transition on Thursday, May 21, 2009 at 12:00 p.m.

Northern Michigan & UP Markets: 6:28 p.m.

 

Grand Rapids Press:

The transition to digital television is a mere two-and-a-half weeks away. Unlike the previous Feb. 17 target for the shift from analog TV, this deadline offers no excuses to the unprepared. The four-month delay from Congress bought procrastinators more time and offered everyone a second chance to receive a coupon for a converter box. Though a number of people will be left watching snow instead of their favorite show, the switch should proceed. On June 12, television stations across the country will begin broadcasting through a digital rather than an analog signal. For people who have cable or satellite television, the switch won't be a problem. Viewers who rely on rabbit ears or roof-top antennas and who do not have internal digital tuners in their current sets, will need converter boxes to continue to watch TV ... As part of the stimulus package, Congress authorized another $650 million for coupons and extended the deadline. The additional help has reduced the unprepared to 3.5 million -- a big number, yes, but significantly fewer than before. Those who remain digital-unready have been inundated with information and assistance. Coupons remain available, and the Federal Communications Commission will help install converter boxes on a case-by-case basis... Editorial: Digital TV switch should occur on schedule (Wed, 5/27)

 

It's been a long few days for fans of the ABC network in the Marquette market as WBUP TV 10 has been off the air since Monday while they complete a move of the station from the Marquette Mall to a new location in Ishpeming.

Engineers are hopeful the station will resume broadcasting in advance of tonight's game one of the NBA Finals.

 

Did you hear? Friday is DTV day!

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There will be no shortage of stories on the upcoming transition to digital television over the next week as the clock ticks closer to Friday, June 12th. Here's a sample of some recent coverage from across the state:

Kalamazoo Gazette:

The boxes are still stacked high at the Best Buy store in Portage. And if those who need one don't know about the switch to digital television broadcasts yet, chances are good they won't know until their TVs go fuzzy on Friday. That's the day on which all full-power television stations nationwide are required to have made the switch from analog to digital broadcasts. It is nearly four months after an original February deadline. "I think people that were hot under the collar to get one have picked them up by now," Mark Cassar, a customer solutions manager at the Best Buy store, said of digital converter boxes... Television broadcasts go fully digital on Friday (Sun, 6/7)

 

WOOD-TV:

After talking about it for more than a year, the switch to Digital Television is upon us all. At 10 a.m. this Friday, June 12, television stations around the country -- including WOOD TV8 -- will switch off their analog transmitters for good. The era of digital transmission begins at that moment. Mike Laemers, the Chief Engineer for WOOD TV8, said viewers will see the 10 a.m. program "and they'll never know anything happened." That is, if you have Digital TV, or an older TV with cable or satellite, or you have a converter box. But if you have an old analog TV and haven't done any of that, the only thing you'll see on your screen is snow. Your TV watching days will be over until you take action... The DTV era is upon us (Fri, 6/5)

 

WZZM-TV:

WZZM 13 and the other analog television stations in West Michigan will make the digital transition on June 12, 2009 at 10:00am. If you watch local television on an analog TV set with an external antenna, you will need to install a converter box. These converter boxes will convert the digital signals back into analog signals. If you have cable, satellite or telco video service, these providers will do this conversion for you. WZZM 13 Phone Bank: WZZM 13 will have a phone bank staffed... Are you ready for digital television? (Fri, 6/5)

 

Jackson Citizen-Patriot:

.. Worth Noting: Friday is TV transition day (Sun, 6/7)

 

Media outlets across the state continue to cover the digital transition for television scheduled for this Friday:

Macomb Daily:

Time is winding down to the June 12 deadline for the national switch to digital television, but officials say some metro Detroiters are still unprepared. The Federal Communications Commission has determined that 3 percent of people in and around Detroit and up to 3.3 million people nationwide -- are not set up for the switch. The 3 percent figure is down from a much higher number when the transition was first planned for Feb. 17, following the passing of the Digital Transition and Public Safety Act of 2005. But President Barack Obama on Feb. 11 signed the Digital Television Delay Act, citing that too many people were unprepared... Deadline nears for digital TV switch (Mon, 6/8)

 

Detroit News:

John and Phyllis Peterson thought they were ready for television's digital transition but found out quite inconveniently they are not. While attempting to watch a program on the local PBS affiliate, WTVS-TV (Channel 56), the Livonia couple recently discovered their digital TV set was no longer picking up this digitally updated station. This wasn't supposed to happen. The clerk at the big-box store where they bought their TV a few years ago said the Petersons "shouldn't need anything." What he didn't tell them is that some "digital ready" televisions don't come with tuners and still need converter boxes and powerful antennas at the very least, and cable at the most, just like their analog cousins... Digital TV: It's time to convert (Mon, 6/8)

 

WWJ AM 950 Detroit:

There's less than a week left before the switch to digital TV. The switch is taking place on June 12 and after that, all analog TV sets won't get a signal. But many Detroit families still haven't applied for their $40 coupons. They can still apply up until July 31. But they won't get their coupons in time to make the transition... Are You Ready for DTV Transition? (Sun, 6/7)

 

Lansing State Journal:

By Friday, the last of the full-power television stations must dump their analog signals for digital. Stations such as WLAJ-TV Channel 53, WSYM-TV Fox 47 and WLNS-TV Channel 6 have yet to convert. WKAR-TV Channel 23 and WILX-TV Channel 10 switched months ago. Together they received fewer than 1,500 complaints, representing less than 1 percent of their total viewership and suggesting that the mandated conversion may go smoothly. Concerns about whether poor and rural Americans will be left behind have largely evaporated, according to local officials. As a precaution emergency officials throughout mid-Michigan are finding new ways to get emergency messages - such as tornado warnings - to the public through means other than TV... Mid-Mich. ready for digital TV, officials say (Mon, 6/8)

 

WKZO AM 590 Kalamazoo:

Television stations that haven't already switched off their analog transmitters will turn them off for good Friday at 10AM. U.S. statistics suggest 3.5% of all local viewers are not ready for digital TV. WOOD-TV Chief Engineer Mike Leamers reminds viewers who don't want to buy a digital TV they will need a converter box, and that may not be the end of it. "There's a lot of people that have digital TV's and converter boxes who are still having technical problems getting us, and that's going to be the biggest problem to overcome," Laemers said. A set of rabbit ears probably won't be enough in this area... DTV deadline is approaching (Mon, 6/8)

 

The digital TV transition is finally here. While television stations work diligently to make the last adjustments before throwing the switch to turn off their analog television signals, citizens across the state are prepared for the transition; nearly all have connected their converter boxes, adjusted their antennas or switched to a paid service. Some viewers purchased a new digital television with a built in tuner and now report to be ready with remote in hand to rescan for all of their favorite channels.

An Michigan Association of Broadcasters survey showed that nearly 100% of those viewers contacted are aware of the digital transition and the latest Nielson survey indicates that only a little over 2% of households in the Detroit market are totally unprepared. Detroit was the only Michigan market surveyed by Nielson. Metro Detroit is the largest over-the-air viewing market in Michigan, so the Michigan Association of Broadcasters (MAB) is confident that most people throughout the rest of the state are ready for the revolutionary change in the way viewers receive their TV signals.

"Michigan Broadcasters did a wonderful job informing Michigan citizens about the digital transition," said Karole White, President and CEO of the MAB. "There has been a tremendous amount of planning and implementation put forth by everyone involved, and a successful transition will be the pay-off."

Michigan television stations lead the nation in educating the public. Detroit stations set an example for other states with the implementation of the first "Test Your TV Tuesdays" and other markets followed holding simultaneous DTV soft tests to let viewers know if their TV's were ready for the digital transition.

The MAB and member television stations have spent the past year holding DTV workshops, speaking to community groups and at public gatherings serving as a resource for all information pertaining to the TV transition. The MAB established a Michigan specific DTV website www.michigandtv.com and with the help of our DTV partners, Don-Lors Electronics, we established the premier DTV information source, the Michigan DTV Helpline, 888-MI-DTV-09. Don-Lors Electronics used their 40 phone lines and their own company operators and technicians to answer local questions, as well as providing walk-in help and in-home assistance to needy seniors.

The Detroit Public Libraries utilized all 24 of its branches to help Detroit citizens with hands-on demonstrations, walk-in assistance and information resources on how to connect and operate a digital converter box and how to find the best antenna for specific locations.

"The DTV transition is the largest simultaneous change in technology in our history," said White. "We ask everyone for their patience during this change. It has been a long and at times very challenging journey to reach this point, we are confident that the transition will go as planned and encourage those seeking help or information to call the Michigan DTV Helpline at 1-888-643-8809."

For information or assistance call the Michigan DTV Helpline at 1-888-643-8809. The Michigan DTV Helpline will be open 24 hours through Sunday, June 14, 2009.

 

Port Huron Times Herald:

When Thelma DeVoogd woke up and turned on her television June 12, she was excited. The 76-year-old Applegate resident had done more than merely survive the switch from analog to digital broadcasting; she did so with a crystal-clear picture and crisp sound. A couple of hours later, however, her TV screen went blank. DeVoogd simply lives too far away from most television stations to pick up the new signal, and there's not much she can do about it. "I am frustrated," she said. "We've had television for 50 some years. It wasn't always great, but there was something I could watch. Now, there's nothing." DeVoogd is far from alone in her troubles. Despite buying a digital converter box and following instructions issued by the Federal Communications Commission, many people who live in rural areas, such as Michigan's Thumb, were left out in the cold when technology advanced last month... Some viewers too remote for digital TV (Tue, 7/7)

 

WLUC-TV 6:

Some exciting changes coming to Upper Michigan television. WLUC-TV announced we have an agreement with the FOX TV network to broadcast all their programming on WLUC 6.2. That's the digital subcarrier we're broadcasting. TV6 programming with NBC programming will not change. The deal calls for the new station, called FOX UP, to also carry news. The FOX UP News at 10 will provide you with the day's news from Upper Michigan. The new FOX TV network station should begin broadcasting August 1 with all of your favorite shows like American Idol, FOX NFL, NASCAR and the World Series... WLUC carries FOX programming (Thu, 7/16)

 

The Michigan Association of Broadcasters elected Tom Mogush, General Manager of WMQT-FM/WZAM-AM in Marquette, Chairman of their Board of Directors at the MAB Annual Meeting and Leadership Retreat held July 14 at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island. Mogush became the 61st chairman of the MAB after serving for three years on the Board of Directors, rising through the positions of Secretary Treasurer and ViceChairman/Chairman Elect.Mogush is the third broadcaster from the Upper Peninsula to lead the MAB organization, which is responsible for over 325 radio and television stations, serving nearly 4,000 individual employees in the broadcasting industry... Local broadcaster will chair MAB (Fri, 7/17)

 

Television: Newsmakers Aug. 7, 2009

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Crain's Detroit Business:

Fans of the Detroit Tigers have reason to rejoice: cable provider Comcast Corp. has added an all-Tigers channel starting today. "FOX Sports Detroit: Tigers On Demand" is available at no additional cost to Comcast digital cable subscribers in Michigan. The channel will re-air the most recent game in its entirety, including all pregame and postgame coverage, starting two hours after the game ends. Other content will include: a selection of baseball memories featuring Ernie Harwell; the "Tigers Weekly" special on the late Mark Fidrych; and an installment of "FSN Basement: All-Star Edition" from 2005 featuring conversations with Al Kaline and George Kell... New all-Detroit Tigers TV channel debuts on Comcast cable (Fri, 8/7)

 

Television: Newsmakers Nov. 23, 2009

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Michigan-Based Chiller Drive In TV show goes national on RTN

TV's Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In will now air nationwide on RTN, the Retro Television Network, beginning Saturday, November 28, 2009. The Michigan based, family friendly hosted horror TV show will now be available to over 80 million households via both cable and digital broadcast thought out the United States with this agreement.

Chiller Drive-In will air on RTN every Saturday at 10pm. In addition, Chiller Drive-In will still air locally at midnight on flagship broadcast station WMYD My-TV 20 in Detroit, as well as broadcast affiliates in Florida and Michigan. "We've come quite far in a short amount of time," says host and executive producer 'Wolfman Mac' Kelly, "It just seems like yesterday we were taping shows in front of a piece of black fabric with cobwebs on it, using a my hand-held camcorder, for airing on community access TV."

The premise of the show is simple: Wolfman Mac and his shady sidekick 'Boney Bob' show B-Movies at the dilapidated the Chiller Drive-In theatre in the fictional town of Hauntington Heights. Adding in the mirth is an ensemble cast of characters who bring up the camp when the movie projector stops. "Our humor is along the lines of what you would expect from movies like Shrek or a Bugs Bunny cartoon. The grown-ups get the jokes while the little monsters laugh because they see mom and dad laughing," says Kelly. Unlike many other horror hosts, 'Wolfman Mac' is a friendly werewolf with a sense of humor. Think of him as a cross between Herman Munster and Tim Allen.

Key to Chiller Drive-In are the Horror and Sci-Fi movies from the 1950's through the 1970's. Chiller Drive-In features titles such as House on Haunted Hill, Zontar, The Thing from Venus, King Kong Escapes and many more. "Viewers always tell me that the worse the movie, the better they like it," adds Kelly, "... and with an abundance of cheezy, low budget, tacky films from that era, I don't see us running out of these movies any time soon."

"Chiller Drive-In" is a 100% Michigan written, produced and video taped production. Filming is done exclusively at the Erebus Haunted Attraction in Downtown Pontiac. With the tremendous excitement about the film and video industry working in Michigan, Kelly, a native of Mt. Clemens, feels that he was ahead of the curve, "This is where I live and work, and I'm proud that our production can be shot in a climate receptive for making TV and movies." Kelly has also become a champion for all things Michigan, and uses his program as a platform for sharing what's right about the area.

So crawl up to the graveyard, dig up a date, pop some popcorn, turn the lights down low and get ready to giggle and shiver with Wolfman Mac's Chiller Drive-In. For additional information, visit www.chillerdrivein.com.

 

Michiguide.com 2009 News Archive

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