Written by: Tom Rieland
Date: February 5, 2009

Congress passed a bill yesterday adding nearly four months to the time all television stations are mandated to turn off their analog transmissions, but it doesn’t mean stations have to wait that long.

The original mandated shutoff date of February 17 was moved to June 12 to allow the government to add funding to the $40 federal coupon program designed to ease the pain for consumers to buy the necessary converter box. There are over 3 million coupons on backlog right now and the funding has been depleted. Another key part of the bill is that those who received coupons and they expired can apply again.

The law that set the Feb. 17 deadline allowed stations to petition the Federal Communications Commission to make the switch early. Some already have — 143 of the nation’s roughly 1,800 stations have gone all digital, and at least 60 more plan to do it before Feb. 17, according to the FCC. Stations in Columbus are considering their options as well. WOSU has decided not to shutdown its analog signal until after March. We’re working on a firm date and will likely need approval from the FCC.

WOSU has established a help center for those who have trouble making the transition. You can call our DTV Help Center at 866-723-4626 if you need assistance in central or southern Ohio. At times the help center will have an answering machine, but we promise to get back to you within a day.

And if you think everyone has converted, give these stats a look — Nielson Media Research estimates that 39,811 households in the Columbus TV Market are still not ready for the switch.  That is a good number of folks who would’ve lost their television service if the February 17th deadline had stuck.

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