"And there were four – count ’em, four – Japanese TV networks taping the proceedings," wrote the Star-News. (Photo courtesy of the paper.)
“We are here because Japan is switching to all-digital in 2011,” Maki Hatae, a New York-based producer for NHK, the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, told the paper. “Fewer people in Japan have cable than in the U.S., she added, “and we want to see how the transition goes, what obstacles people might encounter.”
"But Monday’s event ... was a celebration of how well the Port City and its surrounding counties got the message out about the historic changeover. ...
"The FCC announced Wilmington had become the official lab rat for the national digital changeover back in May. The change only affects TV owners who are not connected to cable or satellite TV, about 7 percent of the total market. Those owners need to buy a digital conversion box in order to receive a TV signal. The boxes are available at area electronics stores and, with a coupon obtained from the government by registering at http://www.dtv2009.gov/, cost as little as $10. The FCC recently announced that more than 36,000 local households had requested 67,000 coupons, and redeemed 25,000 of them.
"If anything, Monday’s event was like a big coming out party for the city and a the national switch, which will not happen until Feb. 17. The streets outside Thalian Hall were crowded with media trucks, and in the parking lot the NAB had set up a large information booth featuring a truck tricked out to look like a huge TV screen, with rolling messages like those in football or basketball stadiums telling how 'You can make the switch one of three ways,' or advising 'the benefits of DTV.' ..."