Digital TV signals are clear, issues not
The upcoming DTV transition has made one thing clear -- the issue is confusing.
Hawaii's full-power television stations will shut off analog signals by February 17, as has been reported in this space.
On Kauai, however, the stations' translators will continue to send out analog signals.
The Federal Communications Commission has not set a DTV transition date for translators, low-power TV stations or so-called Class A stations, so they will continue analog transmission. Operators of those stations worry that once over-the-air viewers switch to digital reception, their stations' analog signals won't be seen.
"Our best intelligence shows that there are between 500 and 800 homes on Kauai that totally get television over the air," said Mike Rosenberg, president and GM of ABC-affiliate KITV.
Converter boxes translate digital signals for viewing on analog TV sets, which is great if all the signals you watch will go digital, but as stated, not all of them will.
The good news is, "a lot of those converter boxes will pass through analog (signals) and will also be able to scan for digital," said Bob Vaillancourt, director of engineering for KHON-TV and The CW, broadcast in analog and digital formats.
The National Association of Broadcasters has posted online, a list of converter box models that will perform both functions.
On Oahu, research by TV ratings service Nielsen estimates that 20,900 homes or just under 5 percent of households depend on over-the-air signals for TV. About 95 percent subscribe to cable or satellite services and will not be affected by the transition.
In a February news conference, Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona estimated that 6 percent of the statewide population received only over-the-air TV.
Broadcasters and the government are working to raise awareness of the need for over-the-air homes to get converters, as well as the coupons for $40 off their purchase.
However, a lot of those viewers are seniors who may not know how to find information on the Internet, said Phyllis Kihara, general manager of KIKU-TV.
KIKU is an Oahu station, but its over-the-air signal reaches parts of Maui. Its largely ethnic programming is available on the Big Island or Kauai via cable.
Kihara spoke of a viewer who had problems after setting up his converter, noting that there is no federal go-to person for such problems.
Kihara recommends viewers call a local station to get a walk-through, should they encounter difficulty. "They'll get a warm body who's interested and will help," she said.
Vaillancourt agreed. "I do receive a lot of calls on television stuff and I'm very happy to answer their questions," he said.
is a reporter with the Star-Bulletin. Call 529-4747, fax 529-4750 or write to Erika Engle, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., No. 7-210, Honolulu, HI 96813. She can also be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org