Reception problems linger after DTV transition

Jun 17, 2009 By PETER SVENSSON , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- The shutdown of U.S. analog TV service on Friday appears to have gone relatively smoothly, but as expected, a lot of viewers are having problems getting the stations they want.

The problems have ensnared even the technologically sophisticated.

Wally Grotophorst in Hamilton, Va., got a "digital" antenna for his digital TV last year. But on Friday, he lost the Washington-based ABC and CBS stations, channels 7 and 9, which he could pick up digitally before the transition.

That's because those stations, like dozens of others, switched their from the UHF frequency band to the VHF band as they cut their analog signals Friday. But Grotophorst's antenna, like many others branded as "digital" and sold over the past few years, was designed only for UHF stations. Nearly all TV stations were using the UHF band for the digital broadcasts until Friday.

"This moving down to the VHF spectrum was news. The stations didn't advertise the fact," Grotophorst said.

He's now regretting that he recycled his old rooftop VHF antenna.

"The station did warn viewers about this change but not everyone got the word," said Bill Lord, vice president of news at ABC7. "The station has made the switch and there is no going back."

There are TV antennas that can receive both UHF and VHF bands. In the indoor version, these have long extendable poles - the "rabbit ears" - for VHF reception and a loop for UHF.

Brett Whitten, a technology consultant in Philadelphia, lost the ABC-affiliated Channel 6 for the same reason. He was unsuccessful in attempts to improvise a VHF antenna out of wire, helped by instructions he found online.

According to a Monday evening newscast, that station was talking to the Federal Communications Commission to see if it could increase its output power. That could help with reception, at least for those who have VHF antennas.

The FCC said it is examining reports of signal loss by viewers of some stations in Chicago, Philadelphia and New York.

The FCC said more than 20 percent of the 317,450 callers to its help line on Friday had problems receiving at least one station, making it the most frequent problem after converter-box setup and requests for converter-box coupons.

Those converter boxes allow older, analog sets to view digital signals after Friday's cutoff, following years of planning, of the transmission technology in use since the days of Milton Berle and Howdy Doody. The are more efficient, freeing up airwaves for cell phones and other services.

If a station is missing, viewers should first try to force the converter box or digital TV to "rescan" the airwaves for channels that moved to new frequencies on Friday.

For those who aren't helped by that, the FCC put out a new advisory Monday recommending "double rescanning." That involves disconnecting the antenna from the box or TV, rescanning, turning off the box or TV, then turning it back on, connecting the antenna and scanning one more time. The procedure can clear the box or TV's memory of saved channel information that is now incorrect, the commission said.

All full-power stations have now shut down their analog signals. Some low-power stations and rural relays known as "translators" are still broadcasting in analog.

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

Explore further: Why the SIM card has had its day

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Stations must warn if new TV signals lack reach

Mar 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.

700,000 callers phone digital TV hot line

Jun 13, 2009

(AP) -- Nearly 700,000 calls were received by a federal hot line this week from people confused about the nationwide switch from analog to digital TV broadcasts that occurred Friday.

Another 158 TV stations to kill analog early

Mar 18, 2009

(AP) -- Regulators have cleared 158 TV stations around the country to shut down their analog broadcast signals before June 12, when the remaining full-power stations will end theirs.

Survey: Fewer than 2.2M households unready for DTV

Jun 11, 2009

(AP) -- A survey sponsored by broadcasters says nearly 2.2 million households that rely on antennas for their TV reception are unprepared for the shutdown of analog TV signals on Friday.

Are you ready for digital TV?

Jan 20, 2009

( -- If everything goes as planned, on Feb. 17 the long-awaited switch from analog to digital broadcasting will take place and millions of analog television sets across the nation will go black. Temple University ...

Recommended for you

Why the SIM card has had its day

20 hours ago

The small microchips known as "subscriber identity modules" or SIM cards that are required for mobile phones to log on to a phone network will soon be 25 years old. While mobile phones and network technology ...

The UK doesn't yet need net neutrality regulations

Mar 04, 2015

The net neutrality debate in the US has ended, at least for now, with the Federal Communications Commission ruling for stricter regulation of telecoms and internet service providers (ISPs) in order to maintain ...

Italy adopts plans to shift into Internet fast lane

Mar 04, 2015

Italy's government adopted a six-billion-euro plan Tuesday to modernise its Internet network and improve access to broadband in hopes of shedding its reputation as one of Europe's online laggards.

Phone firms and the quest for the 5G Holy Grail

Mar 03, 2015

Lightning-quick downloads, driverless cars and remote surgery: telecom firms are racing to develop a new generation of "5G" mobile networks that could start to change the world in five years.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.