Central TV station still broadcasting analog

You heard the warnings: After the June 12 analog-to-digital transition, your TV’s standard rabbit ears would be as obsolete as flash bulbs and fountain pens—useless, in fact. It’s not entirely true. Baton Rouge still has a handful of stations still broadcasting the old way, with no FCC deadline set for going digital. “The bottom line is you had thousands of TV commercials telling you there would be nothing on the air after the transition,” WCBZ-TV General Manager Woody Jenkins says. “That was all a big lie.”

Low-power and Class A television stations, it turns out, were exempt from the “big switch.” WCBZ-TV, an offshoot of Central-based Central City News, is one of the exempt stations. Jenkins says WCBZ never intended to make the switch June 12. “We felt like so few people yet had digital sets or converter boxes, that would be quite an unserved population out there that are not ready for the transition,” he says.

Jenkins says WCBZ’s viewership is way up now that the full-power stations are off the airwaves. The station’s high-traffic spot between WAFB’s and WBRZ’s former VHF real estate doesn’t hurt. The station primarily broadcasts programming from My Family TV, but also airs specials related to Central, church services, community meetings and the like. Jenkins hopes to offer more local programs by fall. Stations like WCBZ probably won’t have to go digital for another two or three years, says Jenkins, who plans to eventually be able to offer four digital channels simultaneously.—Steve Clark

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