June 19, 2018
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Public television goes digital

By Eric Russell, BDN Staff

All five of Maine’s public television stations are set to make the transition from analog to digital signal on Sunday, Jan. 11, more than a month ahead of the nation’s Feb. 17 date.

The switch will affect only viewers who use an antenna. Those with cable or satellite signals will not be affected.

“The world will not change other than you’ll get a better signal,” said David Morse, vice president of Maine Public Broadcasting Network.

MPBN oversees five stations in Maine: WCBB in Augusta, WMEM in Presque Isle, WMEB in Orono, WMEA in Biddeford and WMED in Calais, although the Calais station is slated for closure as part of cost-saving measures announced recently by MPBN.

“This was meant to be a service to our viewers,” Morse said of the early switch to digital. “It saves us a little money, but it was not the intent.”

Those viewers who do rely on an antenna will need to get a converter box to access digital channels. So far, 78 percent of over-the-air households in the Bangor area have applied for coupons to get a converter box, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

Coupons still are available on a first-come, first-served basis by calling 888-DTV-2009 or visiting www.dtv2009.gov.

For information about the switch to digital, visit MPBN’s Web site: www.mpbn.net.

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