Television: February 2009 Archives

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



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)




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



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



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



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



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



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)







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This page is a archive of entries in the Television category from February 2009.

Television: January 2009 is the previous archive.

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