Even after months of nationwide preparation and a four-month delay, the transition from analog to digital TV has led to some unexpected consequences for USF.
Before the June 12 transition, USF’s radio and TV station, WUSF, was forced to choose between broadcasting in analog or digital format.
When WUSF chose to go digital, it lost 30 percent of Bright House Networks customers, who could no longer view WUSF TV or the station’s three other channels. To get these channels back, customers will need a digital cable box, a digital-ready TV or QAM (quadrature amplitude modulation) tuner.
Because USF residence halls only receive basic cable and rooms are not equipped with digital boxes, some USF students living on campus can no longer watch WUSF programming.
Transitioning from analog to digital broadcasting comes with obvious complications, but this situation is poor planning on the part of Bright House. WUSF is located on campus and it makes no sense to cut off residents, who are a key audience and live within walking distance of the station.
WUSF was forced to choose between analog and digital because of an agreement reached between the National Cable & Telecom-munications Association and the Association of Public Television Stations reached in November, but Bright House waited until just before the transition to tell WUSF they would have to decide, said General Manager of WUSF JoAnn Urofsky.
Given more time, WUSF may have been able to handle the transition better. There was also not enough time to inform all customers that they would lose the signal, which left many confused and upset. The sudden drop in viewership will only hurt Bright House, and the company would have been better served by giving WUSF more advance notice.
Bright House has at least taken some appropriate steps to rectify the situation by offering digital boxes for only $1 per month. Even at such a low price, equipping all residence halls with digital boxes would be an expensive and time-consuming task.
Bright House should take responsibility for the situation and work with USF to restore service to residents cheaply and quickly.