Analog/Digital Changeover Has Some Local TV Viewers Scrambling

ELLSWORTH — The nation’s TV stations officially converted June 12 from broadcasting in analog signals to solely digital.

Congress said it mandated the change to free up space on the airwaves for public safety communications, improved emergency response, and faster wireless Internet services.

Most Maine TV stations already had converted to digital at the time of the original conversion date Feb. 17, although WLBZ, Channel 2, and WABI, Channel 5, in Bangor continued to broadcast both signals until midnight Friday.

Cable and satellite customers did not notice any change during the conversion June 12 because they do not rely on over-the-air signals.

But some of the estimated 2.8 million households nationwide — and 78,000 in Maine — that rely on over-the-air signals for TV reception now are scrambling to receive any signal at all.

Digital reception can be affected by terrain, trees, buildings and the weather, among other factors. If the signal does not come through completely, the viewer’s screen is blank.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) arranged for representatives nationwide to help consumers and reported that nearly 800,000 calls were made to the FCC’s toll-free help line, (888) CALL-FCC, from June 8 through June 12.

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