The corporate crystal ball is being no help in determining if the digital transition/analog shut off will take place on February 17 as originally planned, or if the date will be changed. By the time you read this, the decision will likely have been made, but as I write this in mid-January, we really don't know what will happen.
One sure change that will take place, but on February 2, will be a new program lineup on digital channel 47, and a lot of new, exciting content worthy of your attention.
- Channel 47.1 will become our main channel, high definition service. The regular WTVP program schedule will continue on this channel, but in HD.
- Channel 47.2 will premiere a new service called WORLD, a 24 hour channel featuring the best of Public Television's news, public affairs and related programming.
- Channel 47.3 will continue the CREATE service.
Both 47.2 and 47.3 will be broadcast in standard definition. All three of these WTVP multicast services are available off-air at no charge and commercial free. Additional information on these services can be found throughout this month's guide.
Back to the February 17 discussion: We are concerned that everyone who wants to can have access to a television signal. If it takes a short while longer to straighten out the coupon program and give consumers more time to access digital signals, so be it. But let's get to it, get it done, and not penalize the consumers and the stations who have already prepared for the transition.
Someone asked me what the costs of delay might be. To consumers the cost will be measured in time, trouble, confusion and uncertainty. In real costs, moving the transition back to a date such as June 30 will cost WTVP approximately $7,000 per month in unbudgeted power costs - if our aged transmitter can hold out that long. This is the equivalent of 640 basic memberships.
All this speculation and angst may be moot if Congress does not act to change the transition date. We are planning for many contingencies, including complete failure of our aging analog transmitter, but then, as the old adage goes: "Men plan, God laughs."
President & CEO, WTVP (Retired)