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WETA Television Conducts Readiness Tests to Help Viewers Prepare for Digital Television (DTV)

First Washington, D.C., Test Is December 2

Washington, D.C. — To help WETA Television’s members and viewers prepare for the federally mandated transition to all-digital television (DTV) at 11:59:59 p.m. on February 17, 2009, WETA will conduct test shut-offs of the station’s analog signal (WETA TV 26) throughout December. During the tests, viewers are advised to turn on all of their television sets and tune into WETA TV 26 to find out if their televisions are DTV ready.

“Viewers need to know whether or not they’re ready for DTV,” said Joe Bruns, executive vice president and chief operating officer at WETA. “Over-the-air viewers who rely on antennas to watch television are at the greatest risk of losing their TV signals in February. We urge these households, in particular, to participate in the DTV reception tests.”

The first test will take place December 2 from 5:28 to 5:30 p.m. Subsequent two-minute tests are scheduled for December 10, 15 and 23 (times are TBD).

WETA, the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital, is teaming up with area broadcasters for the market-wide tests, which will occur simultaneously on local channels in Greater Washington. During the tests, an on-screen FCC-sponsored message will instruct viewers to call a toll-free number (877-388-5353) for more information. Only those televisions that are not prepared for the transition to all-digital television will display the message. DTV-ready televisions will receive regularly scheduled television programming during the two-minute tests.

Households in jeopardy are those that receive television signals over the air (with a roof-top or set-top antenna) and have not hooked up converter boxes to their televisions, do not have televisions with built-in digital tuners, or have issues with antenna placement. Cable and satellite subscribers receive digital signals through their service providers and, therefore, should not experience a change in service during the tests or after the analog shut-off in February.

Over-the-air viewers have three options to ensure that their households will be able to continue to receive television signals after the February 17 analog shut-off.

-- Purchase and install a set-top converter box for each analog television (including secondary televisions throughout homes).
-- Replace television sets with newer ones that have a built-in digital tuner.
-- Subscribe to a cable or satellite service.

The federal government is offering $40 coupons to offset some of the expense of converter boxes, which generally cost between $40 and $80 each. Information on the coupon program is available at dtv2009.gov and 888-DTV-2009.

Detailed information about the DTV transition is available online at weta.org/dtv and dtvanswers.com.

WETA has been broadcasting digital channels for several years, alongside analog channel TV 26. The four digital channels, which broadcast 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are:

-- The WETA Channel (prime-time programming): 26.4, Comcast 202,Cox 802, FiOS 473
-- WETA HD (high-definition programming): 26.1, Comcast 220, Cox 726, FiOS 526, RCN 164
-- WETA Create (“how-to” programming): 26.2, Comcast 200, Cox 800,FiOS 474
-- WETA Kids (children’s programming): 26.3, Comcast 201, Cox 801,FiOS 472

WETA Washington, D.C., is the third-largest producing station for public television and the flagship public broadcaster in the nation’s capital. WETA productions and co-productions include THE NEWSHOUR WITH JIM LEHRER, WASHINGTON WEEK WITH GWEN IFILL AND NATIONAL JOURNAL, AMERICA AT A CROSSROADS and documentaries by filmmaker Ken Burns, including the upcoming series THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA’S BEST IDEA, airing in Fall 2009. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is president and CEO of WETA. More information on WETA and its programs and services is available at weta.org.

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