FCC Chairman Kevin Martin made it official: Wilmington NC will play DTV guinea pig, pulling the analog plug on four stations at noon on 9/8/08, over five months before the same event will take place everywhere else in the US. The pioneers of the new broadcast television frontier (at least the ones that showed up for the official press conference) are: Donna Barrett, President and CEO of Southeastern Media Holdings/WSFX (Fox); Andy Combs, Station Manager of WWAY ABC; Jim Goodmon, President and CEO of Capitol Broadcasting/WILM-LP CBS; Paul McTear, President and CEO of Raycom Media/WECT NBC; and Colby May, Esq. on behalf of Trinity Broadcasting/W51CW. Bill Saffo (D) is the trail-blazing Mayor of Wilmington; and the President/CEO of the Wilmington Chamber of Commerce is Connie Majure-Rhett.
"On March 3, 2008, my colleague, Commissioner Michael Copps, suggested that the Commission engage in real-world experience readying broadcasters and consumers in advance of the upcoming digital transition, including test markets that would switch to all-digital service before February 17, 2009,” said Martin. “I commend the Wilmington broadcasters for their pioneer spirit to go first to help the entire country prepare for the final transition to digital on February 17, 2009. This experience will help us to spot issues that we need to address elsewhere in the country before next February."