Lawton_You have probably seen the announcements and text running across the bottom of the screen on your 7News programming for more than a year - television broadcasters are switching to digital. After much debate, this week, Congress voted to move the deadline for final switch-off for old fashioned analog broadcasting to June 12. However, many television stations - including all of Texoma's stations - will stick to the original transition date. That means that your 7News station will have our final analog broadcast on February 17 - one week from next Tuesday.
7News sat down with our station management team to talk about why we're going ahead with the switch, and why we're not waiting until June. They say it's because we're ready now, and holding off actually would cause more problems such as coordinating with cable companies, satellite providers, and more. According to a recent survey, more than 99% of our viewers are ready for the switch.
KSWO has had its digital transmitter since 2005, and the station is ready to shut down the analog. "We're going to go ahead and transition on the original date, because that's when everything is planned," said General Manager Larry Patton. "The cable systems, the satellite folks, the people at home - for two years we've been telling them it's February 17th, and we think it's time to go."
February 17 was the drop-dead date, but stations actually could end analog broadcasting earlier. KSWO is sticking to the original plan. "We're going to turn the transmitter off at 11:59 pm on the 17th of February," said Director of Engineering Joe Bartnik. "At that time - if they're on an antenna - they need to have a set top box."
The 'set top boxes' are available at many local electronics shops if you have an older TV set that is not digital. If you have cable you won't need a converter. If you have cable and are not on an antenna and you have problems, contact your television service provider. "If they're on satellite, and they're on Dish Network, then it's a Dish Network problem," said Bartnik. "If they're on DirecTV then technically they're still on antenna, and they haven't made the provisions to cover them."
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is okay with KSWO switching to digital, but on Friday came out with a new mandate about alerts to consumers and viewers. "For the first five days, we have to run a crawl five minutes of every hour - the same crawl that people have been watching the last month," said Patton. "They're going to get to see that crawl for five minutes every hour, and the last two days before the transition they're going to get to see that crawl for 10 minutes, every hour of the day, all day long."