Digital Switch Leaves Some Viewers Without WTAP

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(Updated 2/17/09)

This week’s transition to digital TV has thrown cable customers in the New Matamoras, Ohio area a curve-ball.

For a number of years, their cable service was owned by Time Warner cable.

But on January 1st, ownership shifted to a company called Windjammer Cable.

Cable customers in New Matamoras woke up on Tuesday to find themselves without their local TV channels.

Callers to Windjammer are being told that the service should be restored in “a couple of days,” since the company was not ready for the digital transition.

Windjammer is the same company that recently bought the cable operations in Newport, Ohio and Friendly, West Virginia and decided to shut those systems down rather than continue to operate them.

WTAP is attempting to get more information about this cable problem in the New Matamoras area and will share that with you as soon as we get it.

(Updated 2/16/09)

We have a major update for you in the upcoming Digital Transition.

WTAP had been scheduled to end its long-time analog broadcast on analog channel 15 on Tuesday evening, February 17.

But due to some new developments at the FCC, that shut off will now occur one day earlier...on Monday evening, Feb 16th.

More than a year ago, the FCC ordered all analog television broadcasts to end on February 17th. But that deadline was recently extended.

The paperwork for WTAP and many other stations has been working its way back through the FCC in the past week or so and today's announcement should be the final word.

Again, WTAP's analog channel 15 will now sign off on Monday, February 16th at about 11:35pm.

The United States began moving toward digital television more than a decade ago. Great Britain and Japan are two nations that transitioned to all-digital in the past few years.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has set various soft deadlines in the past ten years for when all analog TV broadcasts had to end. But the Feb. 17, 2009, date was set more than a year ago and has been targeted ever since by broadcasters.

A month or so ago, the federal coupon program -- in which people could get up to two free coupons, each worth $40, toward the purchase of two digital-to-analog set-top boxes -- technically ran out of money. Actually, the program didn't run out of money, but the number of un-used coupons out-weighed the money left to cover them, so no more coupons could be issued. But as each day passes and coupons go un-used, those dollars become available for new coupons.

As a result of this last-minute snafu, President Obama pushed Congress to extend the drop-dead date for stations to stop broadcasting in analog. Congress acted more than a week ago to change that end date to June 12. The President signed that in to law just a couple of days ago.

The law does not prevent stations from signing off on Feb. 16, Feb. 17, or prior to the June 12 date. It merely gives those stations that need to or want to stay on longer, permission to do so.

WTAP has been broadcasting its NBC station in digital (as well as analog) since Thanksgiving 2002 -- that's more than six years ago. It began broadcasting two new digital stations -- FOX Parkersburg and My5 -- in April of 2006. So it is fully ready for the digital transition.

You can find more information about the digital transition elsewhere here at

If you have questions about DTV you can call 877-388-5473.

Or you can call WTAP’s DTV hotline at 485-4588 x253.

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