Channels 7, 9 and 20 won't wait until June for digital-TV conversion

"The Digital Conversion Will Leave Some Coloradans in the Dark," and blogs like this one note that a percentage of locals who've been receiving free, over-the-air TV during the analog era will lose this service once stations switch to all-digital broadcasting. Concerns about problems like these contributed to the feds' decision to delay mandatory transition from mid-February until June. However, outlets are being given latitude to determine their own schedules, which explains why yesterday afternoon, Channel 7 and sister channels 9 and 20 issued press releases in quick succession declaring their intention to go digital on April 16.

Makes sense. Right now, stations are racking up extra costs, because they're transmitting both analog and digital signals. Predictably, though, neither 7News nor 9News uses this rationale to justify the date change. Click "Continue" to read their explanations.

The Channel 7 release:

KMGH-TV Denver's 7 will make DTV switch on April 16, 2009

Station cites growing number of DTV ready homes and concerns with current low power over the air digital signal.

Denver - KMGH-TV Denver's 7, after careful consideration and review, will terminate analog service at 12:01AM on April 16, 2009. Recently passed legislation allows TV stations to terminate analog service earlier than the new transition deadline of June 12, 2009. This early DTV transition will now provide the Denver market with a full power over the air digital signal from KMGH-TV.

KMGH-TV Vice President & General Manager, Byron Grandy, explained, "After evaluating the recent early DTV switch around the country and the increased DTV readiness in our market, I believe we need to make the transition in April. It's not an easy decision but given our unique circumstances I have confidence it's in the best interest of all of our viewers to switch on April 16th."

The unique set of circumstances for KMGH-TV surround the current over the air digital signal. KMGH-TV's current DTV coverage is significantly less than what the station would like. In December of 2008, there was a failure in the tower/antenna system used by KMGH-TV forcing the station to reduce digital power and greatly limiting the availability of KMGH-TV's digital over the air service. "I have always been concerned," says Grandy, "that thousands of viewers now making the DTV transition are not able to receive our over the air signal. With DTV readiness increasing and more folks receiving converter boxes I do not want to add to the confusion by continuing to offer a very limited digital signal."

KMGH-TV will be following the FCC guidelines to educate and inform viewers in our market about the upcoming DTV switch. KMGH-TV will be providing DTV educational information on television, online at TheDenverChannel.com plus help centers and phone numbers. This outreach will provide viewers access to important information explaining the impact this transition will have on television viewing. KMGH-TV has already participated in several Federal Communications Commission sponsored DTV Walk-in centers and will continue to coordinate with the FCC and Colorado Broadcasters Association in the future.

The channels 9 and 20 release:

9NEWS to Go All-Digital on April 16, 2009

Denver, CO - In connection with the nationwide transition to digital television, KUSA-TV and KTVD-TV, Denver, Colorado, intends to permanently cease analog television service at 12:01am on April 16, 2009, a date earlier than the nation's new June 12, 2009 DTV transition date, subject to FCC approval. No analog signal will be broadcast beginning April 16, 2009 and KUSA-TV and KTVD-TV will finally be able to increase their digital operations to the full-power digital signal that has been authorized for the benefit of Denver viewers.

"9NEWS has led the market with our educational outreach, intensive promotion and frequent news segments on-air and on-line about digital TV," said 9NEWS President and General Manager Mark Cornetta. "A little more than a year and a half ago, 9NEWS took the lead in educating the people of Denver. Research has shown, largely as a result of these efforts, the people of Denver are ready. They're informed about digital TV, they're knowledgeable about the benefits of this transition, and they're eager to get it done."

9NEWS has been broadcasting on KUSA-TV and KTVD-TV simultaneously in both full-power analog and low-power digital since 2002. As more viewers adopted the new technology, connecting new converter boxes, or using new digital television sets, the low-power digital signal of 9NEWS on KUSA and some other local broadcasters were too weak to be received. The complete transition to a full-powered digital signal will ensure 9NEWS viewers of the crystal clear picture and crisp audio promised by digital television.

Viewers watching KUSA or KTVD on an analog TV with rabbit ears or a rooftop antenna can continue to receive the stations by using a digital-to-analog converter box, subscribing to cable or satellite service, or buying a TV with a digital tuner. Digital-to-analog converter boxes are available at many area consumer electronics stores. In addition, viewers currently watching KUSA's digital signal using a digital-to-analog converter box or a DTV set will need to repeat the channel scan on April 16, 2009. To register comments, or for more information concerning the DTV transition, converter boxes, and how to continue to receive the stations, go to www.9news.com/dtv, call 9NEWS at 303-871-9999, or write to 9NEWS, 500 Speer Blvd. Denver, CO 80203.

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