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Hearst-Argyle to Test DTV Switch in Ark.

Hearst-Argyle Television stations in Fort Smith/Fayetteville, Ark., will run simulated shutoffs of their analog signals monthly starting now and continuing through the Feb. 17, 2009, date when full-power broadcasters will have to cut off their analog broadcasts for real.

While the signal will not actually be cut off, analog over-the-air viewers will see snow on the screen and a message: "You are NOT ready for Digital TV."

According to Hearst-Argyle, 8%-10% of the households in its viewing area are analog-only.

The station will run the test during all of its newscasts on the 17th of every month. The move follows an initial simulated shutoff in June.

Numerous stations have aired similar real or simulated shutoffs to warn viewers of the switch, and stations in Wilmington, N.C., are actually pulling the plug early -- Sept. 8, barring a hurricane -- to help the Federal Communications Commission gauge the impact.