On Thursday Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin confirmed that Wilmington, North Carolina, will be the first market to test the transition to digital television (DTV) in advance of the nationwide transition to DTV on February 17, 2009. The commercial broadcasters serving the Wilmington television market have voluntarily agreed to turn off their analog signals at noon on September 8, 2008. Beginning at 12:00 pm on September 8, 2008, these local stations, WWAY (ABC), WSFX-TV (FOX), WECT (NBC), WILM-LP (CBS), and W51CW (Trinity Broadcasting) will broadcast only digital signals to their viewers in the five North Carolina counties that comprise this television market. Representatives of each local affiliate, Donna Barrett, President and CEO of Southeastern Media Holdings, Inc. (WSFX (FOX)), Andy Combs, Station Manager of WWAY (ABC), Jim Goodmon, President and CEO of Capitol Broadcasting (WILM-LP (CBS)), Paul McTear, President and CEO of Raycom Media Inc. (WECT (NBC)), and Colby May, Esq. on behalf of Trinity Broadcasting (W51CW) made the announcement along with the Mayor of Wilmington, Bill Saffo, and the President and CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce, Connie Majure-Rhett. The DTV transition for the whole country will take place on February 17, 2009, when all full power television stations must turn off their analog signals and broadcast only digital signals. This test market will be an early transition that will give broadcasters and consumers a chance to experience in advance the upcoming DTV transition. The Commission is coordinating with local officials and community groups to accelerate and broaden consumer education outreach efforts. The outreach will focus on the special transition date for Wilmington and the steps viewers may need to take to be ready by September. Chairman Martin said, "Few moments in history have done more to capture the heart of the American spirit than the Wright brothers' momentous first flight at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina on December 17, 1903. Just as the year 1903 became a year for the history books, the year 2008 looks to be another trail-blazing year for the State of North Carolina." Commissioner Jonathan Adelstein said, "Some would say that the City of Wilmington is quite brave for volunteering to be the test market of an uncoordinated DTV transition process. But the truth is that by completing their transition to digital TV five months before the deadline for the rest of the nation, Wilmington is providing itself and the entire country with a great service."
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