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Soft Analog Tests Multiply

The soft analog cut-off tests are coming thick and fast as the Feb. 17, 2009, DTV transition date approaches.

Stations in Buffalo, N.Y., will conduct two, tow-minute tests a month apart. The first will be Dec. 15 at 6:28 p.m., the second on Jan. 15 at 7:58 p.m.

Participating stations are WGRZ, WIVB, WKBW, WNED, WNGS, WNLO, WNYB, WNYO, WPXJ, WUTV, as well as Time Warner and Atlantic Broadband Cable, DirecTV, DISH and Verizon.

A call center will be set up locally to field questions, and viewers will also be directed to the 1-888-DTV-2009 number manned by the FCC and the Web site backed by a coalition of DTV stakeholders.

According to Nielsen, 8% of TV households in the market have analog over-the-air service, which means they will either need to get a DTV-to-analog converter box, buy a DTV set or get cable or satellite (or telco) video service to continue to receive full-power TV station signals after Feb. 17.

Stations in nearly 40 states are planning to conduct soft analog cut-off tests all on the same day, Dec. 17, while numerous other markets have plans for tests of various durations on various days in the next several weeks.

In addition, Hawaii is pulling the plug on analog a month early--on Jan. 15--so as not to disturb a protected bird species there.