Local cable goes digital

Published 10:07 pm Friday, June 12, 2009

On Friday, television broadcasts officially went from analog to digital with the promise of sharper pictures and a wider channel selection to use.

Demopolis CATV had been prepared for the digital transition for more than a year, when the first notification about the change came out in February 2008. At that time, the target date for the transition was Feb. 17 of this year, but the Federal Communications Commission gave cable outlets and their customers another four months to prepare.

“We did most of our switchover more than a year ago,” said Lynn Goldman, the president of Demopolis CATV. “The only thing we did (Friday morning) was with Channel 11 from Meridian. They switched from 49 back to 11.

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“We had quit picking up analog stations quite a bit ago, but some of the TV stations were using some of their temporary channels and then went back to their original channels. No one should be affected by any of this. Our customers should not see any change.”

Goldman said that WAKA, Channel 8 out of Selma, is expected to increase its power tenfold, which should help with its reception. Other TV stations have been broadcasting on partial power since February to prepare for the June 12 transition date. Those stations should be back up to at least full power soon, if they are not already.

“When the government planned this thing, they did not take into consideration the smaller towns that are a long way from the TV stations,” Goldman said. “We are able to pick up stations that we did not have before, and the pictures are much clearer now, but we still may get interference from weather and other atmospheric conditions.”

Other stations may still be in the future of Demopolis cable.

“We have trouble getting anything over 100 miles,” Goldman said, “but we’re going to monitor Channel 12 in Montgomery and other stations that we might be able to pick up in the future.”

With the transition to digital broadcasting, Demopolis CATV has been able to add high-definition (HD) stations to the lineup. People who have newer TVs with QAM tuners are able to pick up the HD stations automatically. Older TVs will need to have a box to be able to pick up the HD and digital channels.

Demopolis CATV recently began upgrading its system, allowing customers to get more channels and improved Internet access.

“We’re putting new electronics in,” Goldman said. “We’re working to get the upgrade done as soon as possible. We’re going to have 115-channel capacity that will enable us to carry more channels and upgrade the Internet.”