(Aspen, CO) Pitkin County will begin converting its free, over-the-air television service to digital this month. With a simple antenna, residents within “line-of-sight” of one of six translator towers, can get ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, PBS and more, with clear digital pictures for free. Additional channels on the soon-to-be digital county translator system include Community Government and Grass Roots television, among yet-to-be-decided channels.
“This is exciting for Pitkin County,” said Community Relations Director, Pat Bingham. “When the conversion to digital TV is completed our local channels including CGTV Channel 11 and Grassroots Channel 12 will be broadcast throughout our translator system. That means more households will be able to watch Pitkin County Commissioner, Aspen City Council and Town of Snowmass government meetings and all the great public television programming on Grassroots,” Bingham said.
The conversion starts December 17th, weather permitting, as access to some of the mountaintop translator sites is only possible by helicopter. Engineers anticipate having the initial phase of the digital conversion completed within weeks. Digital conversion of throughout the county’s translator system is expected to be complete in early 2010.
“The County Translator System has served remote and rural residents beyond the reach of cable TV for years,” said Pitkin County TV and FM Manager, Dan Chicoine. “With the digital conversion it can also benefit residents, within translator line-of-sight, who want basic television but don’t want the expense of satellite and cable systems. The bottom line is, our translator system customers will be getting a much better, clearer digital signal,” Chicoine said.
The conversion will start with four sites including Sunlight Peak, Elephant Mountain, Crown Mountain and Thomasville. These sites serve the lower and mid-valley, along with Redstone and Thomasville. Williams Hill and Lower Red Mountain will follow in February. These sites serve Woody Creek, Watson Divide and the Aspen/Snowmass area. Analog service in those four areas will end, and the entire system will shut down as the conversion starts. Service from Sunlight and Elephant Mountain should be back up the same day, with Crown Mountain following that evening, and Thomasville the next day. Service in Aspen and Woody Creek will be back up (but still analog) the following day.
Residents will need a digital-ready television or a converter box if they wish to continue using an older television. They will have to “re-scan” to find all the new channels.
Complete details of the conversion process, what residents can expect, and how they can prepare and equip for digital TV service are available on the county’s website: www.aspenpitkin.com . Click on Digital Conversion on the homepage. For more information call 920-5390.