Scary news about the analog TV phaseout!

Scott Fybush
Fri Feb 1 15:23:20 EST 2008

Peter Q. George wrote:
> The main problem with these new converters (just like
> when UHF was a new additional expense back in the 50's
> and 60's) is that, more times than not, they're numb
> as hell.  OTA (over-the-air) Digital TV simply
> requires a strong signal and most times, the
> top-of-the-set rabbit ears or the UHF loops simply are
> not enough to do the job, unless you're within the
> near field of a station's footprint.  There are still
> going to be some people out there (especially in THIS
> economy) who simply cannot afford cable or satellite
> service.  Many of these viewers depend on the
> translator service for their television.  When DTV
> becomes mandated for the translator service, many
> folks will be out of luck.  

Except that the DTV converter box program included a VERY stringent set 
of technical standards for the boxes. In order for a box to be approved 
as eligible for the coupon, it has to meet standards for sensitivity and 
selectivity that far exceed the performance of most of the OTA DTV 
tuners currently on the market.

This is not going to be a repeat of the numb-as-hell UHF converter days. 
NTIA's on the ball on this one. I can't wait to get my hands on one of 
the new boxes in a month or two to do a shootout against my Accurian 
converter box, which is only middlingly sensitive.

I'm not going to try to claim that someone in a signal-vacuum area like 
Keene or Winchendon is going to get stellar results with rabbit ears all 
of a sudden. In the long run, it may be up to broadcasters to extend 
better service to these areas through the use of on-channel "single 
frequency network" DTV booster systems, which are much more practical in 
the digital realm than they would have been in analog.

I do know that as I go driving in rural areas at some distance from the 
transmitter sites in western and central New York, it seems as though 
almost every home now has a dish in front of it or on the roof. I 
suspect that these days, penetration of direct-to-home satellite service 
is running just about in inverse proportion to OTA signal strength.

> On another note, I'm amazed on how some stations are
> reverting to their original analog VHF-lo channel
> assignments after operating their DT's on UHF.  WRGB
> in Schenectady, NY is doing just that.  Considering
> the hilly terrain of the area of Upstate New York and
> Nearby Massachusetts.  VHF-lo will not work with DTV
> very well.  It's been proven by several stations. 
> They'd be better off with a UHF translator from Mt.
> Greylock.  Oh, well.

WRGB is absolutely convinced that on digital, low-V will carry better 
into the hollows and valleys of eastern NY, VT and MA than the Us will. 
In terms of raw signal strength, they may well be right - it's certainly 
true of their analog signal. The big unknown is how bad electrical 
interference will be, and what effect e-skip might have on the channel 6 
signal come summertime.


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