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AETN prepares for temporary shutdown, announces alternate delivery plans

The Arkansas Educational Television Network anticipates the temporary shut down of KETS Channel 2/Little Rock transmitter in Redfield to occur within the next week, weather permitting. The KETZ Channel 12/El Dorado transmitter in Huttig will also be off air later this month when a tower crew becomes available.

The shutdown is necessary for final preparations for the digital transition. Following the shutdown, both analog and digital signals from these transmitters will be unavailable until Feb. 18, 2009, when all television stations will only broadcast in digital. Transmitters near Fayetteville/Fort Smith, Jonesboro, Mountain View and Arkadelphia will not be affected.

âWe sympathize with our viewers who may be without AETN during these weeks and have made arrangements so that many may continue receiving our signal,â AETN Executive Director Allen Weatherly said. âUnfortunately, this shutdown is unavoidable as we take steps to make the digital transition as complete as possible.

âThese AETN channels will be moving to currently occupied digital television channels in both Little Rock and El Dorado, so we are unable to return to broadcasting before Feb. 18, even if the work is completed early. When we return to full service, the KETS and KETZ digital signals will be able to reach more homes to deliver the best in Arkansas and PBS productions.â

AETN has done everything possible to continue broadcasting to as many people as possible during this transition. Some cable systems are using direct fiber connection to the network or have added antennas to receive signals from other AETN transmitters such as KETG/Arkadelphia, KEMV/Mountain Home and KTEJ/Jonesboro.

âWe investigated satellite delivery to cable companies but found that route to be exorbitantly cost-prohibitive,â Weatherly said. âMany cable systems would not be able to use that satellite feed, and there is no national PBS satellite feed available for viewers with satellite reception.

âDirect fiber connection is not available to all cable companies, and even then not all of them have the expensive equipment required to make that connection.â

Currently, the following cable and satellite systems are expected to continue broadcasting AETN during the transition:

* Alliance Cable (Greenbrier)

* Comcast (Little Rock)

* Community Communications Cablevision (Monticello, Warren, Star City)

* Conway Corporation (Conway)

* DishNetwork (Central Arkansas and Little Rock DMA subscribers)

* East Arkansas Cable (Forrest City, Brinkley, Marianna)

* Pine Bluff Cable TV (Pine Bluff)

* Resort Cable TV (Hot Springs)

* Suddenlink (Morrilton, Russellville, Atkins, Dover, Malvern, Hot Springs Village, Cabot, Little Rock AFB)

* White County Cable TV (Searcy and surrounding area)

* Hwy 64 corridor (Vilonia, Beebe, Searcy, Cabot, courtesy of KTWN-18.2)

Systems in Central Arkansas not mentioned above are not technically capable and/or cannot financially afford to receive a signal from AETN. In some cases, there may be reception problems and reduced picture quality due to the extreme distances.

âAETN greatly appreciates all of the efforts that these systems have made to help us reach our audience during this brief outage,â Weatherly said.

Areas unable to receive AETN during the transition period should return to normal on Feb. 18. Viewers throughout the state who rely on an antenna or ârabbit earsâ for over-the-air reception are encouraged to perform channel searches on their digital televisions or converter boxes on Feb. 18 to be sure they are receiving all available digital channels after changes in channel numbers and broadcast power that may have occurred.

Announcements about a potential shutoff during January and February are required by the Federal Communications Commission. Actual dates are based on the required tower work, which is entirely dependent on weather conditions nearly 2,000 feet off the ground.

For more information and updates about the shutdown and DTV transition, visit www.aetn.org/dtv The Arkansas Educational Television Network  (www.aetn.org) provides lifelong learning opportunities, improves and enhances Arkansansâ™ lives and celebrates the unique culture of Arkansas through its programming and services. AETNâ™s digital and analog transmitters and numerous cable system connections give it statewide reach.

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