Insight Communications, Lexington's cable provider, will begin to transition some of its channel lineup to all-digital later this month.
For a few months now, the company has touted its switch to all-digital, which is requiring customers to install new equipment on televisions that aren't already connected to an Insight digital cable box.
Spokesman Jason Keller said more than 90 percent of residential customers in Lexington now have the capability of being fully digital, either by having an Insight digital box or by requesting and installing the equipment, which is called a mini-box. The mini-box plugs into the back of a television and essentially functions like the converter boxes that were popularized by the move from analog to digital over-the-air network TV.
The company initially planned to provide customers up to two free mini-boxes and charge for the remainder but has since decided to give them away for free to existing customers until a 75-cent monthly fee per mini-box begins during 2013.
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Keller said the company has not determined which half-dozen or so channels it will begin to transition later this month. He said the company decided to make the transition as a series of channel changes instead of one switch of all changes in order to provide the least disruption to customers.
"As we move forward, we're going to be constantly monitoring the project with an eye on adoption rate to make sure it's a seamless experience," he said.
A final date to have the entire analog channel lineup converted to digital has not been set.
Insight has been running messages over programming on televisions that are not yet equipped with mini-boxes or hooked to digital cable. Those who have seen the messages but have not yet requested equipment can do so by ordering online at 610upgrade.com or calling 1-888-327-2559.
The conversion to all-digital will allow Insight to free up the larger amount of space required by analog channels compared to digital ones. With that added bandwidth available, the company plans to add about 50 more high-definition channels and residential Internet service of up to 50 megabits per second.
Insight to launch politics show
At 7 p.m. Monday, Insight will launch a politics show on its Kentucky-themed cable channel 2. The show, Pure Politics, will be anchored by Ryan Alessi, who is heading up the channel's political coverage.
Keller, the company's spokesman, said the show will run each weekday evening with repeats at 11:30 p.m. through the general election on Nov. 2.
The show will feature news, interviews with political candidates and community leaders, and updates on polling that Insight has conducted, Keller said.
The channel's staff has not yet determined how often the show will air after the election, he said.
Alessi is a former Herald-Leader reporter.
A date has not been set yet for the debut of the channel's sports-themed show to be hosted by Matt Jones, the founder of KentuckySportsRadio.com.
Comings, goings at WLEX, WKYT
NBC affiliate WLEX (Channel 18) is once again hunting for a meteorologist for its 4 p.m. newscast. The station had hired Jessica Starr for the position, but she left the station for personal reasons before appearing on air, said news director Bruce Carter.
The station has hired a new reporter, Bianca Spinosa, who most recently worked at a station in Charlottesville, Va.
WKYT has hired a multimedia reporter, one who will both shoot video and report stories. Sean Moody worked for the station in the past as a photographer and will report three days a week. He'll serve as a weekend assignment editor the other two days.
Moody fills the weekend assignment editor position vacated by former radio and television news reporter Joe Gillespie. He has left WKYT for a job hosting a morning-drive news block at KXNT Newsradio in Las Vegas.
"It is quite a transition from the Bluegrass to the desert, but there's a lot of news to be covered," he said.
Morning shakeup at WTVQ
ABC affiliate WTVQ (Channel 36) has shuffled its morning lineup after the station declined to renew the contract of co-anchor Chris Dietz. The station has moved Kristi Runyon back to the morning slot. She will anchor the 5-7 a.m. newscasts alongside Doug High, who was weekend anchor for the station. However, Runyon will anchor the noon news alone.
General manager Chris Aldridge said that's because noon shows typically tend to feature longer segments that are more conducive to only one anchor, while morning shows need a faster pace that's better accomplished with two anchors.
With High on weekdays now, the station has moved former morning co-anchor Kellie Wilson to anchoring on Saturday nights and evening co-anchor Tom Kenny is anchoring on Sunday nights.
The station has also changed its lead-in to its 5:30 p.m. news. The station decided to stop running court shows and has replaced Judge Judy with Extra, Aldridge said. The latter had been airing during the late-night hours.
New weather feature
WLEX has launched a new component to its weather forecasting system.
The station has purchased Weather Central Fusion, a product that allows it to show a square kilometer each of downtown Lexington and the University of Kentucky in high-resolution 3-D models, Carter said.
The system allows the station to do visual fly-throughs over the city to show real-time clouds, he added.
"The computers that do this system are very robust," Carter said. "Ten years ago, you could have never thought of doing such a thing, but the technology has changed so much."