The Washington Times - September 9, 2008, 02:21PM

As those of you who read my story today are aware, Wilmington, N.C., yesterday became the first market in the country to transition from analog to all-digital television, capping an intensive four-month education effort by the Federal Communications Commission and broadcasters.

Wilmington earlier volunteered to be a guinea pig ahead of the rest of the nation’s transition on Feb. 17, so all eyes are on the coastal city to see how it went. And, the early word this morning from the broadcasting community is a positive one.

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“By and large, the consumer education campaign run by Wilmington stations and the FCC got the job done,” Andy Combs, general manager of the area’s ABC affiliate, WWAY, said in a statement. 

A poll at the end of August estimated the level of digital TV transition awareness among the city’s 180,000 viewers to be around 97 percent. Only 14,000, or 8 percent, of those viewers relied on over-the-air analog broadcasts and thus had to take any action yesterday to continue receiving signals after the analog shut off.

According to the National Association of Broadcasters, Wilmington’s four commercial broadcasters received a total of 226 DTV- related calls from viewers. Only one call  was from a person unaware of the transition, according to the trade group; most were from viewers who set up their digital-to-analog converter boxes incorrectly or needed help adjusting their antennas. 

To continue receiving signals after the national switchover, over-the-air viewers who don’t purchase a converter box must either subscribe to cable or satellite service or buy a new digital TV.    

By Kara Rowland