More Than a Third of TV Stations Will be Digital Next Week

About a third of stations want to have made the switch, higher than earlier estimates

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Nearly 700 TV stations want to have all digital broadcasts by the original deadline next week. That's more than a third of the 1,800 or so stations affected by the transition, and a higher number than earlier estimated.

Federal regulators today released a list of 491 stations that want to make the switch by Feb. 17. That was the original deadline for all stations to make the transition. Congress last week moved the deadline to June, but stations can turn off their analog broadcasts early. Another 190 stations will have made the change before Feb. 17. Regulators may stop some stations from turning off analog signals if they decide it's against the public interest, perhaps for safety reasons.

The high number underscores the confusion that will beset consumers next week. Two stations in my St. Louis market want to make the change, including the ABC affiliate. That means their signals, but only their signals, will disappear from old sets that don't have digital tuners.