Updated: Wednesday, 18 Feb 2009, 2:24 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 18 Feb 2009, 7:22 AM EST
PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP/WPRI) - Major TV stations in the Providence-New Bedford market have shut down analog signals Tuesday night to meet the initial deadline set by Congress for making the transition to digital television.
WPRI-TV and WJAR-TV were among the more than 400 TV stations nationwide which ended analog TV broadcasts Tuesday.
WLNE-TV and WNAC-TV will temporarily continue sending analog signals, but only for local news broadcasts and public service announcements about making the switch to digital. WLNE will maintain its analog signal for 60 days, and WNAC for 14 days.
An additional 191 full-power stations have already turned off
Once analog is dropped, people receiving television signals through an antenna must obtain a digital converter to receive signals, unless they have a newer television with a converter built in.
Originally, all U.S. stations were to cut their analog signals on Tuesday, but at the urging of the Obama administration, Congress voted this month to give broadcasters more time. Most stations, particularly those in big cities, accepted the offer to wait until June 12.
The Rhode Island Broadcasters Association set up call and
walk-in centers for people with questions about the transition.
Jeremy Taylor, who was volunteering at a call center in Providence, said he had fielded calls from people who had reception problems because they didn’t realize they needed a new antenna to receive some stations, and from people needing help installing converter boxes.
But a small portion of callers were angry, convinced the switch to digital was a way for the industry to squeeze money from their wallets.
“I try to explain that the digital switch is not something
we’re doing to extort them of money,” Taylor said.