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Pa. Sets Nov. 17 DTV-Switch Test

Pennsylvania TV stations set Nov. 17 for a test of the analog cutoff scheduled to happen for real Feb. 17, 2009.

So, far, about 40 stations have signed on for the one-minute test, either actually pulling the plug on analog broadcasts and leaving viewers with snow, or a "soft" test, in which the analog signal will be a message that if they are watching that message, "you or your pay TV provider are not ready for Feb. 17, 2009 -- the date analog television ends."

Well, not exactly: Some low-power stations will likely still be broadcasting in analog, as may some border full-powers if they get special dispensation from Congress. Then there are 60 or so full-powers that may not reach all of their markets with digital signals for a while after Feb. 17, 2009, due to technical difficulties.

The announcement of the Pennsylvania test came the same day stations in Wilmington, N.C., planned to conduct their own, longer test in anticipation of their early switch to digital Sept. 8 -- weather permitting.