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.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


If you get the Sunday newspaper with all the advertising supplements, then check out the one for Best Buy next Sunday. The leading home electronics retailer is beginning to alert consumers about the end of analog TV broadcasts next February through advertising announcements in stores (what they call "point of sale" marekting), advertisments, and soon even receipts. They even are putting their Geek Squad into training to help consumers convert their old TV sets. Best Buy is also planning customer assistance through a toll-free DTV help line at 1-877-BBY-DTV9 (1-877-229-3889)

Best Buy has just released a private-labeled Insignia converter box that is only 8.5" wide by 6.5" deep and can easy fit on top of a tube analog TV set. It is available in stores for $59.99, and eligible for the federal DTV coupon program that allows consumers to get a $40 voucher toward the purchase of approved converter boxes that can send DTV signals to analog TV sets through either an open TV channel or composite (RCA) video, much like a DVD or VCR player hookup.

Also in March, Echostar, the parent company of Dish Network, will release their own converter box, the TR-40, under the EchoStar and Sling Media brand names. The boxes are to retail for $39.99, which means those consumers who use the $40 vouchers toward the purchase of these converter boxes will only pay a couple dollars in sales tax to make their existing analog-only sets DTV ready.

To get information on requesting up to two DTV converter box coupons, visit www.mydtv2009.gov. The catch is that the coupons you request need to be redeemed 90 days after they have been mailed, so as I always say about these things, let the buyer beware.


I am happy to say that today I discovered that www.antennaweb.org is now listing what the final DTV channels will be for your area when you are looking to select an antenna for over the air DTV reception. When you use the site and it lists the results, if you click on the "Show digital stations only" radio button, you will now see among the listings stations that will be changing their DTV frequency once the transition completes on February 17, 2009.

If you look at the "Live Date" column, if a result for a digital station says "February 17, 2009 (post-transition)" it means that the "Frequency Assigment" listed for that station is the permanent one that has been approved by the FCC, but it will not take effect until the transition is completed. Until then, the Frequency Assignment for the same call letters in an entry that does NOT have the post-transition Live Date entry is the one that is currently in use.

However, the listings for the post-transition stations will predict the signal strength of reception as that broadcast will be full-power per federal regulations. So now if you are currently using a UHF antenna to get your DTV over the air, you may want to visit www.antennaweb.org again to see if you may need to add a VHF antenna to ensure you will get all your desired channels following the transition. If you do enough research, you may be able to find antennas designed for UHF and VHF High Band (Ch 7-13), in case the listed frequency assignments are in the 7-51 range, which would not be insanely wide in the back and an eyesore monster on your rooftop.

I believe the reason it has taken a while for Antennaweb to post the final DTV frequency assignments is because many stations are only beginning to submit their construction permits to the FCC to build and deploy their full-power DTV transmissions on their final selected channels. The data would include the expected antenna height and power, which are needed by the Antennaweb program to predict what signal strenghs are expected at a given location.

Given the cold and snow that the nation has been enduring this winter, it may make more sense to get an antenna system set up over the summer so you won't have to go out in the cold to relocate an outdoor antenna next February - thankfully the Antennaweb site will now let you plan to do just that.