CBS is first local channel converted to digital TV

KINGMAN - If you're one of the many county residents who went out and bought a digital converter box for your old analog television set, odds are you've been pretty disappointed with it so far.

That's because the county had yet to actually switch any local channels over to digital, despite earlier assurances that it would begin doing so in the summer. But that finally changed Wednesday, when K31BI re-broadcasting KLAS Channel 8, a CBS station out of Las Vegas, became the first local signal to make the transition to digital.

According to Mohave County Public Information Director Darryle Purcell, the reason for the delay was primarily due to licensing issues with the Federal Communications Commission. "The manufacturers who get the equipment for us to go digital, there have been some delays in them getting the equipment to us," Purcell said. "Now we're at a state where we're going to start doing one (channel) at a time, and it's going to take a while."

Purcell noted that the FCC has focused mainly on ensuring that major metropolitan areas make the changeover, while rural areas such as Mohave County have been left to their own timelines.

"Metro areas like Phoenix, they're the key broadcasters. We're not held to the same standard," he said. "We're not even required to make this change. We could continue to broadcast in analog."

And, in fact, the county will continue to broadcast in analog as it converts one channel at a time. To ensure that they can keep watching every channel throughout the transition, Purcell said analog TV owners should be sure to purchase a digital converter with a "pass-through" feature so they can watch both digital and analog signals.

"People with the old-time sets can have that box on there, and when we do one station, they'll still get the old stations," Purcell said. "Then when they are all digital, they'll still be able to get that."

Residents who either already own a newer digital television or who get their television signals through satellite or cable providers do not need a converter box. While the county has not yet released a timeline for the changeover, future updates will be made available on the county's Web site, www.co.mohave.az.us - select "departments," "county manager" and finally, "DTV."

For more information, call Yvonne Orr at (928) 753-0729 or Jack Trahan and Bill Boyett at (928) 753-3829.