TV Stations Go Digital

Those who heaved a sigh of relief when Congress voted to postpone the switch to digital TV to June 12 from Feb. 17 are getting a rude awakening: More than a third of the country’s full-power broadcasters will cease transmitting an analog signal by midnight tonight. Six hundred forty-one stations in total are going all-digital, leaving millions of rabbit ear-dependent TV watchers with screens full of static. Despite the delay, which Congress approved after the government maxed out the budget for its converter-box coupon program, the FCC granted requests to broadcasters who wanted to go digital sooner. Seventy-two markets are affected, including many or all major-network stations in San Diego and Santa Barbara, Calif.; Providence, R.I.; and La Crosse and Madison, Wis. Nielsen Co. estimates that 5.8 million US households are not prepared for the switch.