SYLACAUGA, Ala. – A short decade ago, the Federal Communications Commission began moving the television world from analog to digital technology. New digital and HDTV signals significantly improved quality yet reduced over-the-air service to distant areas, since digital transmissions are easily stopped by terrain and other obstacles.

Faced with increasing demand for mobile phones and congested wireless networks sharing the same spectrum, the FCC is now in the process of “packing” existing station assignments into a smaller space, making more room available for other services.

Millions of American viewers, perhaps as many as 20%, still depend on an antenna to receive local channels.

People watching free over-the-air television signals rather than subscribing to cable or satellite will see changes beginning in November 2018. A phased transition will move almost 1,000 stations to new channels by July 13, 2020, and require significant modifications to towers, antennas, transmission lines, power levels, and transmitters. Many FM radio stations sharing towers with television stations could also be affected.

What will this mean to stations we may be able to receive over the air in the Sylacauga-Childersburg area?

WBRC (FOX), Birmingham – moves from digital channel 50 to 29
WVTM (NBC), Birmingham – moves from digital channel 13 to 7
WBMA (ABC), Birmingham – moves from digital channel 40 to 11
WABM (MyNetworkTV), Birmingham – moves from digital channel 36 to 20
WSFA (NBC), Montgomery – moves from digital channel 12 to 8
WCIQ (Alabama Public Television), Mt. Cheaha – moves from digital channel 7 to 12

WIAT (CBS), Birmingham, will remain on digital channel 30.

Low-power television station WOIL, licensed to Talladega but based in Sylacauga, will move from channel 47 to 23, with power reduced from 3Kw to 1.85Kw. Its transition must be completed by Sept. 9, 2019.

Lee Perryman for SylacaugaNews.com | © 2017, SylacaugaNews.com/Marble City Media LLC. All Rights Reserved.