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The Fight For Five Percent

For a story on how local stations are handling the four month delay in the DTV transition, I interviewed area media critic Rick Redding. He said about five percent of Louisvillians aren’t ready for the transition, and he speculated that WLKY, WDRB, WHAS and WAVE are delaying their transition in part to keep their share of that 5%.The idea is that if every channel but one turns off the analog signals, the people who don’t have DTV converters (or cable or satellite) will watch the only analog station in town until it shuts off its signal on June 12th. At that point, presumably, the viewers who were happy with only one channel and didn’t hook up converter boxes will get the boxes and go back to watching their new favorite channel.Redding criticized the idea of stations spending around $50,000 in electricity bills to broadcast to 5% of the market, especially since it’s not clear who is in this group. It could be people who are waiting on DTV vouchers, it could be people who don’t watch TV enough to have seen the ubiquitous DTV promos, it could be people who plan on subscribing to cable once the transition goes through or it could be people who don’t care that much about watching TV.KET is delaying its transition until mid-April. Spokesperson Tim Bischoff said the network wants to wait for people who haven’t received their converter vouchers and who have had their lives disrupted by the recent ice storm. Bischoff said the full four month delay isn’t economically feasible for KET.Other stations, like the CW here in Louisville, will turn off analog signals on Tuesday. The federal law that mandates the DTV delay doesn’t require stations to stay analog until June, it just postpones the mandatory cutoff for those signals.How about you? Are you part of the illustrious 5%? For extra fun, you can check out NPR’s map of stations shutting off their analog signals on the original transition day. (Louisville’s CW isn’t listed on the map yet)