December 10, 2008

WWL-TV & New Orleans Broadcasters Conduct Successful DTV Readiness Test

New Orleans, LA. (Dec 4, 2008, 9:00 AM), New Orleans broadcasters say an innovative test last night designed to help television viewers determine their readiness for the upcoming digital transition was an unqualified success.

"We have been describing to viewers for months who would be affected by the transition and who would not," said Bud Brown, Vice President and General Manager of Belo-owned WWL-TV and WUPL-TV and President of the Greater New Orleans Broadcasters Association, which organized the test. "Last night viewers were actually able to see graphically if their household was ready or not. The volume of calls we received immediately after the test was confirmation that we reached directly those people who need to prepare for the switch."

In addition to the WWL-TV and WUPL-TV, New Orleans stations WDSU-TV, WGNO-TV, WVUE-TV and WNOL-TV also participated in the test. The participating stations are all members of the Greater New Orleans Broadcasters Association and each aired the test at the exact same time.

Don Cooper, Executive Director of the GNOBA, explained that the test involved sending a different image over the analog signal than over the digital. "Viewers receiving the digital signal saw a large green checkmark on their screens," said Cooper, "indicating the TV passed the test. But viewers receiving the analog signal saw a large red 'X' on their screens. Those viewers who saw the 'X' kept the phones at our local call center ringing for nearly two hours as they called in for information on the transition."

Volunteers from participating TV stations staffed the call center to allow viewers to have contact with a local expert who could provide information on the transition. Cooper said the call center logged "hundreds" of calls following the test.

"I believe we achieved our goal of clearly reaching those who are most likely to be affected with an unmistakable message," said GNOBA president Brown. "Hopefully that awareness will begin to transform into preparedness as those viewers who saw the red 'X' take steps to prepare for the transition."

WWL-TV and the other area broadcasters will conduct at least two more readiness tests before the February 17, 2009 switch to 100% digital broadcasting.

WWL-TV is a part of Belo Corp., one of the nation's largest pure-play, publicly-traded television companies, with 2007 annual revenue of $777 million. The Company owns and operates 20 television stations reaching more than 14 percent of U.S. television households, including ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW and MyNetwork TV affiliates, and their associated Web sites, in 15 highly-attractive markets across the United States. Belo stations consistently deliver distinguished journalism for which they have received significant industry recognition including nine Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton Awards; nine George Foster Peabody Awards; and 23 national Edward R. Murrow Awards all since 2000, and in each case more than any other commercial station group in the nation. Nearly all Belo stations rank first or second in their local market. Belo owns stations in seven of the top 25 markets in the nation, with six stations located in the fast-growing, top-14 markets of Dallas/Fort Worth, Houston, Seattle/Tacoma and Phoenix. Additionally, the Company has created regional cable news channels in Texas and the Northwest increasing its impact in those regions.