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KSPR, the ABC affiliate station for the Ozarks, will join nearly 500 other stations across America next Tuesday by shutting off its analog transmitter for good. In doing so, it will become the first station in Springfield to make the transition to digital TV. KSMU’s Jennifer Moore reports.
Earlier this month, Congress passed legislation known as the “DTV Delay Act,” which postponed until June the date on which high-powered TV stations must stop broadcasting in analog signals and send out purely digital signals. The old deadline was February 17th.
However, the Federal Communications Commission says 491 tv stations across America have decided to go ahead and stop their analog transmissions on February 17th anyway. One of them is KSPR in Springfield, which has been operating two transmitters for years now —one analog and one digital.
In the KSPR newsroom, a police radio provides constant background sound as journalists prepare for the day’s newscasts.
Brad Belote, the news director at KSPR, said the station decided to shut off its analog transmitter on the 17th for a number of reasons. First, operating two transmitters is expensive, and he said the station had not budgeted to keep its analog transmitter running after February 17th.
In addition, he said KSPR’s analog transmitter is on its last leg.
Belote said the station has been getting the word out about the transition for years.
Almost every time that crawl goes up on the screen, the phones start ringing. Belote says about half the calls he’s getting are from people who are relieved that the station is finally making the switch. The other half are from people concerned that they won’t receive the channel after it goes purely digital.
Those people who get their channels through a cable or satellite provider, or who have a TV with a digital tuner, should continue getting KSPR after February 17th.
Those who have an older, analog TV and who receive their channels over the air—via rabbit ears or an antenna—will not receive KSPR after Tuesday unless they have hooked up a converter box. The converter box takes the digital signal that will come from KSPR and converts it into an analog signal the older TVs can read.
We walk back to the Master Control room at the station.
The large, dark room is filled with TV monitors and various machines humming away. That’s where we find Neal Evans, the chief engineer at KSPR. After work next Tuesday, he’ll drive out to the tower in Fordland, where the analog transmitter is, and literally with the push of a button, he’ll stop the analog transmitter from sending its signal…for good.
Other major television stations in the Springfield market say they, too, intend to cease their analog operations before the June 12th mandatory deadline:those stations plan to make the transition on April 2nd.
For KSMU News, I’m Jennifer Moore.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT DTV:
www.dtv.gov (Federal Communications Commission)
www.dtv2009.gov (TV Converter Box Coupon Program Website)