Hawaii first state to go all-digital


POSTED: Friday, January 16, 2009

Hawaii became the first state in the nation to have all its full-power television stations cease analog programming at noon yesterday.



;[Preview]  Hawaii Makes Digital Switch

  The much publicized and long anticipated switch to digital tv took place across Hawaii. 

Watch  ]


  It also served as a training ground for Japanese broadcasters, on hand to observe and learn in preparation for Japan's DTV conversion in July 2011.

Digital programming continued from new transmitters on Oahu, Maui and the Big Island. Kauai's low-power TV signals were not included in the transition.

Most of it worked according to plan and according to consumer education efforts, but there were glitches.

KITV's brand-new digital transmitter in Hilo tested perfectly Wednesday, but suffered a power-supply problem when it was fired up for the transition.

Alternate power was connected and its signal was propagating at full power within two hours, said Mike Rosenberg, president and general manager.

A slight technical issue in the way KHON and KITV program information was displayed by converter boxes was being resolved yesterday afternoon, said Joe McNamara, KHON president and general manager.

At noon, depending on which station they were watching, viewers who had not connected their TV to a converter box either saw a slide with a phone number to call, or a seven-minute video loop hosted by TV personality Dale Payson, informing them that analog broadcasts had ceased and what to do about it.

The so-called analog night-light may stay on for days or weeks, depending on the station.

Despite converter boxes and internal or external antennae, some viewers lost all or most of the stations they were accustomed to watching, because of the lower elevation of the stations' transmitters and the difference between digital and analog signals.

“;Unfortunately for some people, reception is going to be a problem going forward,”; said John Fink, vice president and general manager of KHNL/KFVE-TV.

“;We have plans to move our transmitter site up higher, on Palehua Ridge, in the spring, and that should provide more reach around Central Oahu and Kauai.”;

Beyond that, “;there are topographical and transmission issues that we just can't overcome,”; as broadcasters.

Most stations are fielding viewer calls to answer questions.

Outdoor antennae are far more powerful than so-called rabbit ears, “;but if we realize they're not ever going to get us,”; the remaining option will be to get cable or satellite service, Rosenberg said.

The FCC will track calls to try and determine how many viewers have lost service or have diminished service, FCC Hawaii DTV Transition Manager Lyle Ishida said.

Up to and through the transition, HAM radio operators John Peters and Bill Kendall were among several volunteers at the primary Federal Communications call center who helped people hook up converter boxes.

Peters shared a caller's joy when the set-up went properly. “;Oh it works, it works!”; he repeated gleefully.

Every call didn't go so well, however.

Ishida spoke with an elderly Maui man who was having trouble connecting his converter box. Ishida found and connected a similar model to help the caller, step by step, but the man could not get it to work. Ishida encouraged him to take the box, its remote and cables to the FCC staff at Queen Kaahumanu Center for face-to-face help. If that didn't work, they could send someone to his house, Ishida told him.

At a second FCC call center, staffed in partnership with the City and County of Honolulu Office of Elderly Services, a call-taker said a woman in Hawaiian Acres, on the Big Island, could previously watch several channels, but post-transition she could only see one.

Ishida was planning to keep the call center staffed as late as midnight last night and again today, depending on call volume.