State bumps up digital TV transition

Hawai‘i’s transition from analog to digital television broadcasting, which affects just about anyone using rabbit ears to watch their favorite shows, has been moved up to Jan. 15, 2009 — a month before the rest of the nation.

The national deadline is Feb. 17, 2009.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service requested an earlier timeline so deconstruction of broadcast towers atop Haleakala volcano on Maui does not conflict with the endangered Hawaiian dark-rumped petrel breeding season.

“The prospect of digital television is exciting, and I am delighted that ours will be the first state to realize its benefits,” Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawai‘i, said.

The state’s full-power television stations will go digital beginning at noon in Hawai‘i and Maui counties and the city and county of Honolulu.

Televisions already connected to cable, satellite or other pay services will continue to receive programs as usual. Anyone who picks up their television signal with rabbit ears will no longer receive programming.

Kaua‘i viewers are not affected by the state or national deadlines because the island is served by low-power transmitters. Such signals are exempt under the law mandating the transition.

The digital transition is expected to bring consumers better pictures with sharper sound. It will also free up new airwaves to improve communications for emergency first responders.

• For more information, visit www.HawaiiGoesDigital.com or call (888) CALL-FCC. Viewers can request up to two $40 coupons that can be used toward the purchase of converter boxes by calling (888) DTV-2009 or visiting www.dtv2009.gov

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