US National DTV Test Day on 21 May


The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US Federal Communication Commission (FCC) wants television stations that haven't already switched to digital-only broadcasts to show a public-service advert about the digital transition for three five-minute periods on May 21. The aim would be to remind everyone still watching analog broadcasts of the final conversion from analog to digital transmissions will take place on the 12th of June.

According to the story, the first national broadcasts would occur at 7:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

The (un)availability of converter boxes doesn't seem to be too much of an issue anymore. As of April 28, the number of DTV converter box coupons that have been requested is 56,765,801 whereas the number of coupons redeemed stands at 28,359,490.

In related news, Broadcast Australia, is warning Australia's transition from analog TV to digital remains "challenging." Australia is slated to have only DTV transmissions in urban areas by December of this year, while the rest of the country will be completed switched over by 2013.

Broadcast Australia, which delivers the most digital TV signals around the Australia, says the problem is two-fold: not enough digital television content and not enough viewers buying DTV sets (which is probably related to there not being enough content).

Australia originally had planned to go digital in 2008, but that date was moved back. Whether Australia will learn anything from the rather uneven US transition experience remains to be seen.

Spectrum would still like to hear about your experiences on the changeover. Go here and join the crowd.


Risk Factor

IEEE Spectrum's risk analysis blog, featuring daily news, updates and analysis on computing and IT projects, software and systems failures, successes and innovations, security threats, and more.

Robert Charette
Spotsylvania, Va.
Willie D. Jones
New York City