OTA HDTV Reception Q&A

Updates on the DTV transition and how to receive over-the-air digital television for free.

Location: Richmond, IL, United States

Hello there! I created this blog to share the information about over-the-air HDTV reception you have been wearily searching the Web or calling technical lines for, whether you have decided for less expensive means to get your favorite TV shows, or still adjusting from the over the air broadcast DTV transition that occurred on June 12, 2009. After working for a leading antenna manufacturer for almost 5 years, during which time I've shared my expertise with those who asked on the phone and by email at work, I decided to do the same in the Blogosphere! Confused about getting your local HD channels? Just click through the archives, some of the most useful information is in the early posts from 2005-06. If you want to get in touch with me with antenna related questions, just leave a comment anywhere on this site.

Monday, February 26, 2007


We are now less than two years away from the February 17, 2009 date that analog over-the-air television broadcasts will end. Sadly, there exists significant evidence that the American public as a whole is unaware of what is going on. The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) is now reportedly in plans to form a committee to educate the public on the transition to digital. The NAB clearly is out to take a stand to educate the public under the awareness that Congress is reportedly planning to spend $5 million for DTV education, which is only a small amount relative to the big amounts advertisers spend, including cable and satellite companies.

The NAB is seen as a political lobbyist group, and they likely may be vocal to the government agencies who will be debating the approval of the recently announced plan for the XM and Sirius satellite radio providers to merge into a single entity by about this time next year. The NAB may see this as a monopoly, while the satellite radio providers feel their unified pay service will be a competing content CHANNEL to terrestrial radio, television, and now, podcasting and user-generated content that is becoming more accessible to an increasing number of high speed Internet customers. In the same way, the NAB could push getting the word out about the transition in the same way we will be seeing politicians make ads during election season. NAB DTV transition VP Jonathan Collegio is expected to head this education group, and you can see read an interview with him on the TV Technology Web site.

I do agree with Collegio that this transition will mostly affect minorities, seniors, households below the poverty line, and people in rural areas. For the most part, those who have the ability to afford cable or satellite TV, or even a broadband Internet connection that would allow people to watch most popular network TV shows online the day after their original air date as well as news headlines, would likely not see the transition as a big deal. Collegio in his interview hopes to create a campaign that will create a coalition with the NAACP, the AARP, and public broadcasters. These days, PBS stations may be supported for the most part by individuals who do not spend much for cable or satellite, and they primarily choose PBS when watching television. As for minorities and disadvantaged households, I would expect the NAB to throw out the Hurricane Katrina card, and argue how broadcasters were able to inform such households affected most by the natural disaster with free over the air TV, which will now be suddenly lost to them after the shutoff, unless they have an analog to digital TV converter box. I also hope the education will include those who are currently enjoying off-air free HDTV since many stations will be using a different final DTV channel than what they are using now, so those viewers need to be aware that they will have to rescan their tuner to get some channels they lost right back after the shutoff date. In some cases, they may need a different off-air antenna than the one that is on their rooftop or in their attic, if that antenna is strictly UHF.

Also according to reports, some newspapers and TV stations were mandated on February 17, 2007 to run a report on the analog TV shutoff in two years. I unfortunately did not notice any in my area, but probably because I was getting most of my news from a video podcast, and I did not watch much local news during the time. Still, the mandate must have been for local newspapers and stations and not national organizations, as I did not see any national news headlines regarding the shutoff. But is clear retailers are getting the idea as there are some reportedly not selling any more TVs without an off-air DTV tuner, which will be required from all retailers over the course of this year. As for converter boxes, I am still waiting for news on how such analog to digital boxes will be distributed and subsidized. I say, why wait? Thankfully, I am now seeing that Winegard Company has put up a fairly informative Digital Television Center on their Web site to educate consumers on the DTV transition. Winegard has also now made available an analog to digital converter box of their own, the RC-1010, which is retailing for $210. They are marketing this for RV owners whose TV sets for the most part will also be affected by the analog shutoff, and I do not feel are being counted in addition to analog TV sets in households, but should be. Winegard also has a marketing partnership with RV dealer Camping World, which has posted a nice instructional streaming video on the RC-1010 receiver and the advantages of over the air DTV.

So with two years left before analog signals shut down, some progress is being made, and the education is slowly but surely becoming available to the public. I hope to help out by linking to additional sources of information about the transition, some of which are already available in previous blog entries for you to browse, or in the banner ads. The NAB will in all likelihood begin to lay out their publicity campaign during their convention in Las Vegas in mid April, and I will be interested to see the initial PSAs.