Wilmington, N.C., has become the first major city to permanently switch TV broadcasts from analog to digital. Most of the country will make the transition to digital TV on Feb. 17.
A crowd of media, elected officials and curious residents packed Wilmington's City Hall on Monday to watch the mayor and the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission flip a 7-foot mock switch.
The change from analog to digital jump-starts the FCC's campaign for the national transition in February. The commission is now focusing on cities with more than 15 percent of the population watching over-the-air television signals.
Over the past four months, the FCC has been at senior centers, retail outlets, festivals and farmers markets with booths touting the transition. The local airwaves were blanketed with public service announcements, but still people weren't ready.
College students were at local television stations trying to help confused viewers who started calling minutes after the switch at noon Monday. According to reports, the switch over did not go without incident for a number of television viewers. The main objective of the excercise was to identify likely problems for average viewers when the switch occurs. Based on this "experiment", a certain amount of confusion is to be expected. Hopefully, the glitches can be worked out in time for the nationwide switch.