RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – If you haven’t been tracking the progress of digital television, start.

On Wednesday, Capitol Broadcasting (the owner of WRAL Local Tech Wire) announced the launch of the Retro Television Network in the 22-county Triangle region. RTN will be available in digital format only, from broadcast over digital channel 50.2 to Time Warner cable’s digital TV service.

The network launches on Sept. 10.

By February of 2009, the Federal Communications Commission requires that all TV stations be digital. That means consumers have to have digital TVs or equipment to convert digital signals.

RTN will be broadcast locally by Fox 50 (WRAZ), a Capitol owned station. It is a 24-hour network featuring classic TV programs such as “Hawaii 5-0,” “Perry Mason,” “Mission: Impossible” and “Gomer Pyle USMC.”

Capitol, led by tech pioneer Jim Goodmon, embraced digital technology more than a decade ago. WRAL was the first commercial TV station to offer high definition. And the RTN decision is just the latest in the company’s decision to, no pun intended, capitalize of additional programming opportunities provided by digital.

“I think we will be doing more and more projects like this as we move closer to the digital transition in February 2009,” Goodmon wrote in an e-mail to Capitol’s employees.

RTN is a new network launched to capitalize on the additional programming opportunities digital networks will provide. It is owned by Equity Media Holdings Corporation, which already owns TV stations in 41 markets. The company is based in Little Rock, Ark.

However, many people are not yet ready for the digital age. Time is running out. The old analog system is going away sooner than you think.

Oddly, RTN is broadcasting old programs to fill the new digital airways and cable channels. To see the old, we all will have to embrace the new.

Have you?