WMDT 47’s Switch To All Digital Broadcasting

***UPDATE: Winds Delay WMDT's Switch to Digital


Salisbury station WMDT-TV was ready to switch from analog to digital broadcasting, but high winds ahead of a storm moving through the region delayed those plans.

WMDT-47 general manager Kathleen McLain says crews tried Wednesday morning to remove an analog antenna, but high winds at 600 feet forced them to return to the ground.

The Federal Communications Commission is requiring stations to change to digital by Feb. 17.

The station shut off its analog signal Sept. 22, but the old antenna remains. McLain expects work to resume Sunday and the antenna swap, a 2-day process, should start Monday.

A small percentage of viewers are affected by the delay. WMDT broadcasts a low-frequency digital signal that can reach viewers in close range, and cable customers are not affected at all.

In preperation for its final switch to digital braodcasting, WMDT 47 will be shutting off its old “analog” signal. That signal relies on television transmisssion technology about 70 years old. New digital technology that’s more energy efficient and puts out a better signal, is taking its place. The transmitter that Channel 47 has relied on since 1980 will be gracefully retired. A new one for digital is already installed and running.

WMDT-47�s new digital signal also requires a new braodcast antenna, a 30-foot-long, one-ton piece of equipment that gets mounted on top of WMDT 47�s 1000-foot-tall tower after the old antenna is removed. By Thursday or Friday, weather permitting, WMDT 47 will have its stronger signal up and running on channel 47.

This has been a process, initiated by Congress and the FCC, that has benn going on for more than a decade and is to be completed nationwide by February 17, 2009. WMDT 47 has had a reduced power digital signal up and running on channel 53 for several years. But this final digital phase will give WMDT-47 the most powerful and strongest signal it has ever had.

Some Delmarva viewers who watch on cable may experience a few interuptions during this period as equipment is being installed, but do not have to do aything with their homw TV systems.

For our viewers watching TV�s with antenna, the 47 analog signal will be gone today. The improved digital signal, which can be received cia antenna to a digital-receiveing TV set, or via a digital-to-a analog converter to an older analog set, will be up and running on Thursday or Friday. Coupons for $40 discounts for converters are available from 888-DTV-2009, or by clicking for information at WMDT�s website, @link href=’http://www.wmdt.com’target=”_blank”>www.wmdt.com/link.

Channel 47.1 will air WMDT 47�s ABC network programs, with our four local newscasts esach day and favorite shows such as Judge Judy and Deal or No Deal. Our digital channel 47.2 is our CW 3 network station, along with its 24-hour a day programming.

WMDT 47 isn�t alone in making this conversion early. About 200 stations of over 1800 nationwide have already started with early switches to digital, and cut-offs or reductions in their analog signal. More early changes come along every day. All stations in the city of Wilmington, NC, shut down their analog channels two weeks ago, and that area�s stations now only send out digital channels.

The reasons for the early change are many. In WMDT 47�s case, because it is among the few stations nationwide that have to put the final digital signal on the existing analog and the can�t both be on at the same time, the early switch fills a void as home viewers watching with antennas increasingly ask for a better signal.

Digital sets and converters are available at many stores, but Circuit City, Wal-Mart and Best Buy seem most ready to provide the right equipment and correct answers on what antenna viewers will need. In other TV markets where the change has been made, most viewers were ready for it. Those who experienced problems often did not follow all instructions for their converter box, or did not have an antenna that was adequate. For this area, if an indoor antenna is being used, a multi-directional model of at least 45db reception capability is recommended. For those with digital sets or converters who could not get WMDT 47�s channel 53 digital signal, please try to re-tune on Friday. Our new digital signal is 10 times stronger than the interim signal we have had in the past.

We appreciate that this may be challenge for some over-the-air viewers. We�re here to help. We have special hours for phone calls to the station during this time. Please phone us with any questions at 410-742-4747. We want you to be able to stay tuned to WMDT 47, as we continue our almost 30 years of service to Delmarva.