as a weekly practice I listen to npr and do a little sketch on one of the stories. take a look, you can click on the illustration to make it bigger!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Digital TV Goes Dark For Some Rural Viewers

All 90 folding chairs were filled for the town meeting last week in the cramped auditorium at the elementary school in Bergton, Va. It was standing-room only on the fringes and out into the hallway. Close to one-third of the local population was there. The subject wasn't taxes, health care or education. This was a town meeting about television and what happened Feb. 17, when the sole television source of local news, weather and emergency information switched off its analog signal.

"My mother and father-in-law … lost the signal. It went totally out," reported Robert Hannam, a retired utility worker. "We bought a new TV. We bought a converter box — no signal. And everybody else in the community around here has had the same difficulty." Public service announcements warned people in Bergton and nearby communities in rural Virginia and West Virginia ahead of time about buying converters to prepare for the digital TV conversion. But they failed to mention a key fact: Viewers of the local TV station weren't getting their TV signal directly from the station's transmitter.

Instead, that signal first traveled to a translator antenna — a device that boosts television signals from TV station transmitters to distant areas beyond their reach. The translator needs a digital converter box, just like a TV set. But translators were not part of the digital TV mandate. The result for some rural viewers: no TV signal.

-excerpt from NPR

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