NH TV stations to have test-run on digital switch

WMUR Channel 9 and New Hampshire Public Television, Channel 11, will conduct a simulated shutdown of their stations’ analog television signals today from 5:30-6 p.m., as part of continuing preparation for a permanent switch set for Feb. 17.

Many stations in the Boston television market conducted a similar shutdown test last month.

“The Analog TV Shutdown Test,” a live half-hour program, will let viewers see if the TV switch will affect them. During two 90-second test periods, viewers who are not ready for the digital transition will see a message on their screens urging them to take action.

The television stations also will present background information about the transition.

A phone bank of volunteers will be available from 5:30-9 p.m. that night to answer questions about digital television, converter boxes, antennas, reception and more.

Televisions connected to cable or satellite service will not be affected by the digital broadcast transition – only older, nondigital TVs that get their broadcast signal from antennas.

The switch is being made to free up airwaves, because digital signals are smaller than analog signals. The freed-up frequencies are earmarked for everything from special TV channels to emergency communication to broadband Internet.

Some officials, including members of the administration of incoming President Barack Obama, have called for the Feb. 17 deadline to be pushed back because of a shortage of coupons to help people buy digital converters for older sets. So far, however, Congress has not altered the deadline.