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Minnesota stations making the switch

By Jeff Kiger

jkiger@postbulletin.com

Some area TV viewers may be having trouble with their TV remotes, but they certainly know how to use their telephones.

"Hundreds, hundred and hundreds of phone calls" rolled in to KTTC-TV and KXLT-Fox 47 in Rochester Tuesday, says Jerry Watson, vice-president and general manager of KTTC and KXLT.

The two Rochester stations transitioned to broadcasting only in digital Tuesday, and then the wave of calls to the station started.

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The primary question repeated over and over was "how do I scan my TV to re-set my channels," said KTTC Station Manager Liz Dahlen this morning. The Federal Communication Commission even sent a representative to Rochester to help field the calls.

And many people needed help in setting up their converter boxes to still be able to pick up stations via antenna over the air.

"Many people waited until the last minute — and they had them already — waited until the last minute to hook up their converter box," says Watson.

The estimate is that about 30 percent of each market watches analog signals via antenna. This federally-manadated switch is costing stations an average of $3.2 million, says Watson, without bringing in any additional revenue.

"Once we get them (former analog viewers) going, they are thrilled with the picture quality and with the almost triple the number of stations they can now pick up," he said. However, other than the scanning and hook-up questions, the transition seems to have gone smoothly, Dahlen said.

"Everything went the way we thought it was going to go," Dahlen said.

Unlike other stations serving the Rochester area, KTTC and KXLT, Rochester’s NBC and Fox affiliates, decided to pull the plug on their analog signals and go all digital Tuesday.

The federal government originally set the digital conversion deadline for Tuesday, but then recently delayed the switch, giving stations until June 12 to convert. Other stations in the region, like KAAL and KIMT, decided to wait.

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The FCC says other TV stations in greater Minnesota making the change include KWCM in Appleton, KAWE in Bemidji and KAWB in Brainerd.

Other stations in Minnesota have already made the switch. FOX affiliates KQDS in Duluth, KVRR in Fargo-Moorhead, and KBRR in Thief River Falls made the switch on Feb. 1. NBC affiliate KRII in Chisholm ended analog broadcasting on Jan. 6.

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