Broadcasters in Hawaii prep for DTV switch


POSTED: Thursday, October 16, 2008

Hawaii's TV broadcasters will ramp up efforts to inform viewers about the switch-over from analog to digital broadcasts, now that it's coming to Hawaii Jan. 15, a month before the rest of the nation.





On the Net:





» Consumer Reports:,


» YouTube DTV:


» Tutorial:




The main news anchors from local network affiliates and PBS Hawaii were to gather at KGMB-TV yesterday for production of a public service announcement.

It is an unprecedented effort for an unprecedented event.

“;It really is one of the biggest paradigm shifts in the broadcast industry,”; said Chris Leonard, president of the Hawaii Broadcasters Association.

Reflecting on the advent of color TV, he said, “;if you ... had a black-and-white television, you still got a signal. This is a big conversion.”;

Local broadcasters have created a Hawaii-specific Web page for transition information.

It is estimated by TV ratings service Nielsen that 9.6 million U.S. households are not ready for the switch, according to a story in Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

In Hawaii, with its high percentage of cable and satellite subscribers, it is estimated that just under 21,000 households receive television over-the-air, via antennas.

With the exception of Kauai, it is those households that will need to connect each TV to a converter box. However, Hawaii residents have been slow to obtain, either online or via phone, government-sponsored coupons for discounts on the boxes.

It should be noted that not all Hawaii TV stations are full-power stations that will be going digital on Jan. 15.

There are three dozen Class-A, Low-Power and TV translators not covered by the federal analog-to-digital mandate that will continue analog broadcasts.

Viewers of those stations will need a converter that allows for what is called analog pass-through, said Steve Komori, vice president of content delivery at PBS Hawaii.

While all converter boxes will translate digital signals to analog, many do not allow for analog pass-through, necessary for watching analog broadcasts.

Consumer Reports published ratings about DTV converter boxes, including some models that allow analog pass-through. Its reporting is available online.

One YouTube video, while funny, also provides a sobering look at how many viewers, who are not technically inclined or Web savvy, may have difficulty connecting the converter box.

Hawaii viewers have several options for learning how to connect converter boxes to their television sets, including an online tutorial video by Broadcasting & Cable magazine.

Also, telephone help is available from the engineering departments of local stations.