Stations must warn if new TV signals lack reach

March 16, 2009

(AP) -- TV stations must alert viewers if their new digital signals don't reach areas covered by their soon-to-be-defunct analog broadcasts, the Federal Communications Commission has ruled.

The stations must also inform viewers if they might need new antennas to tune in digital stations, the commission said Friday.

The new rules were prompted by lessons learned after Feb. 17, when about a quarter of U.S. TV stations turned off their analog signals. The remaining stations are scheduled to cut their transmissions on June 12.

is generally superior to analog, but for several reasons, people who get a station's analog signal may not be able to get the digital version. Most are in the UHF band, and travel differently than the VHF signals used by most major stations for analog broadcasts. In particular, the UHF transmissions can be blocked by hills that VHF signals bend around. VHF antennas might be poorly suited to tuning UHF stations.

Many stations are also intentionally shifting their broadcast areas by moving their towers, aiming the signals differently, or cutting their power.

Stations must inform their viewers if 2 percent of them stand to lose reception in the shift to digital signals, the FCC said.

Also, stations must remind viewers to have their digital boxes or sets "re-scan" the airwaves to find stations that have moved to a different frequency, the commission said. The need for a re-scan tripped up many viewers in the week of Feb. 17.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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not rated yet Mar 16, 2009
Who gets all the money consumers must spend to stay informed of national events, local news and weather? And what about the alerts for weather, tornadoes, etc? Are we shooting ourselves in the foot? We spent a lot of money to set up an information system that kept nearly everyone informed. What percentage of viewers will be lost? How many death can we expect from the lack of information that will be available?

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