The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Local News

February 5, 2009

All W.Va. TV stations except WOAY

Recently passed legislation will not affect several television stations in the region from changing to digital television broadcasting on Feb. 17, according to station officials.

“Every commercial television station in West Virginia will convert to digital-only broadcasting on Tuesday, Feb. 17, except for the ABC affiliate in the Oak Hill and Beckley market, WOAY-TV 4,” said Michelle Crist, executive director of the West Virginia Broadcasters Association.

Two stations serving the Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill television market, Fox and CBS affiliate WVNS TV 59 and NBC affiliate WVVA TV 6, made a joint announcement Wednesday that both will convert to digital-only broadcasting Feb. 17.

“The stations in this market have done an outstanding job of educating the public to this conversion and that it would occur on Feb. 17. We greatly appreciate members of Congress for providing stations the flexibility to convert in February as we believe our viewers are ready,” said Frank Brady Jr., vice president and general manager of WVVA-TV.

In a joint statement, station representatives said their research indicated that less than 1 percent of the households in the Bluefield-Beckley-Oak Hill market were not yet prepared for the conversion from analog to digital.

“As a result of this conversion, viewers will have many programs offered in high definition, which is of incredible quality,” said Bray Cary, president of West Virginia Media Holdings, owner of WVNS-TV. “Plus, most of the stations are offering more than one programming service, which enhances viewers’ options.”

The stations said they would be ready to answer any questions viewers might have about the digital conversion through their Web sites or via phone calls to the stations during business hours.

Jim Martin, chief engineer for WOAY-TV, says his station is receiving at least four calls per day regarding the switch and converter boxes.

“So many viewers are just not ready,” he said. “They are having trouble getting converter boxes and we are not satisfied with the quality of reception for analog television users. Our current plan is to wait until June so that we can continue to serve these customers. We don’t want to lose or alienate any of our viewers. We agree with the federal government that lots of viewers are not ready.”

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