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Another 158 TV stations to kill analog early

Wed, 03/18/2009 - 8:45am
Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) – Regulators have cleared 158 TV stations around the country to shut down their analog broadcast signals before June 12, when the remaining full-power stations will end theirs.

Most of the stations going early are in smaller markets and don't broadcast any of the four major commercial networks. Exceptions include the NBC and ABC affiliates in Denver, which are shutting analog on April 16.

The list was released by the Federal Communications Commission late Tuesday.

More than 600 stations have already killed analog, with many of them shutting down around Feb. 17, the original deadline. That means that just under half of the country's 1,759 TV stations will have ended analog transmissions before June 12.

PBS stations, many of which are financially strapped and don't want to bear the cost of keeping analog broadcasts, account for 58 of the stations that are set to shut down early, leaving 125 broadcasting in analog until June 12.

The Trinity Broadcasting Network, with religious programming, is shutting down analog early at 26 stations, leaving eight.

The vast majority of full-power stations are already broadcasting digital signals, which can be received by newer digital TV sets or through converter boxes.

Nielsen Co. said that as of March 1, 4.5 million households that receive only over-the-air broadcasts haven't prepared for the analog shutdown. The figure includes households that have bought a converter box but haven't connected it.

The converter boxes are subsidized through a government coupon program that ran out of money in January, which was the main reason the nationwide mandate for the analog shutdown was postponed beyond the originally scheduled date of Feb. 17. The coupon program has received new funding through the national economic stimulus bill, and the government is working through its wait list.

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