SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KTIV) - After months of education, two major DTV transition tests, and an extensive outreach effort, KTIV-TV will join a host of other broadcast television stations and stop analog broadcasting on the afternoon of February 17, 2009. The station owned by Quincy Newspapers Inc., will broadcast exclusively in digital television from that point on.
This change will occur at the television station even though the U.S. Congress has passed an extension of the deadline to make the conversion to DTV. A DTV bill that moves the required national digital conversion date to June 12, 2009 was approved by the House on Wednesday. With Senate approval of the bill already in place, the President is expected to sign it into law in the next week to ten days. This new legislation, though, still allows for station to convert earlier if they so choose, consistent with Federal Communications Commission rules.
"We believe our viewers are ready for the change," said Jerry Watson, Vice President and General Manager of KTIV Television. "We have been telling them consistently about this pending change for more than six months."
Viewers on cable or satellite systems will not be affected by the change. For others who get television signals with over-the-air antennas, it will mean re-scanning their converter boxes or digital TV sets after the switch is made.
Watson said research indicates that less than one percent of the households in the Sioux City market are not yet prepared for the conversion from analog to digital. The stations say they will continue to answer any questions viewers might have about the digital conversion through their websites or via phone calls to the station during business hours.
The stations' engineering staff has been assisting viewers with answers to their personal questions and station management has also given public presentation about the switch to digital for over two years. On Dec.17th, KTIV conducted the first elaborate "transition test" to show viewers which TV sets were not ready for the change to digital television. The test was repeated on January 12, 2009, to again provide a vivid demonstration for viewers on whether they were ready for the change.
Watson says the change to digital TV on KTIV will come during the afternoon. KTIV will broadcast information about the change during the NBC affiliate's 12 noon newscast, and also just prior to the change, at 1:30 p.m. Following the news alert to viewers watching at that time, KTIV's analog transmitter will be powered down at approximately 1:35 p.m. Because technical changes will have to be made in the station's digital signal path, it will not be until about 3:30 p.m. that KTIV-DT will resume normal broadcasting.
"We're eagerly looking forward to this moment," said Watson. "The quality of the new digital television picture will be an amazing improvement for viewers." Plus viewers will receive several other free over the air channels for example they will receive the Siouxland CW channel.
Many other broadcast stations will also halt analog broadcasting some time during the day on February 17, which was the date set years ago by Congress as the time that digital broadcasting must begin, and the analog frequency band be given to other users. Among the other stations set to make the change on Feb. 17 in the Sioux City television market is KCAU-TV, the ABC affiliate and KMEG 14 the CBS affiliate located in Dakota Dunes, SD. Iowa Public Broadcasting will continue broadcasting in analog for the time being.
The U.S. Congress had ordered television stations to stop broadcasting a digital signal on February 17, 2009, and to get ready for that date, KTIV-TV has been broadcasting a digital television signal since 2002.