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, March 27, 2008


As people begin to receive and use their DTV converter boxes, they are also beginning to discover what the NAB PSA's mean by DTV offering "more channels", which are the standard definition multicasts to supplement their primary HD channel. A Chicago-based media company, Weigel Broadcasting, is a small independent media company that owns three TV stations in the Midwest: WCIU, an independent Chicago TV station, WDJT (CBS), WMLW (low power independent), and WYTU (Telemundo) in Milwaukee, and three low power stations in South Bend, IN, affiliated with ABC, the CW, and MyNetwork TV. This broadcaster is beginning to reap the potential benefits of DTV multicasting by offering "MeTV", a channel available on a low-power analog channel in Chicago but, more importantly, a DTV multicast on both WCIU-DT 26.2 for Chicago, and as of March 1st, WDJT-DT 58.3 in Milwaukee (58.2 simulcasts WMLW).

MeTV offers viewers classic TV shows from the 50s, 60s, 70s, and 80s, including all-time faves like I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, Dick Van Dyke, and The Cosby Show. The great thing about watching these shows on DTV is that the picture quality is near DVD quality, the sound is great, and consequently, it gives people a chance to re-discover great TV shows again and watch them with a picture better than they remember when they tried to get them off the air with an old analog tuner. In Chicago MeTV has been received so well, and Weigel has access to such a large classic TV library, that on March 1st they launched a second classic TV channel, MeToo, on their WCIU-DT multicast channel 26.3. So now Chicago viewers have a free off-air source for classic TV as an alternative to pay network channel TV Land, which as of late has sold out to the reality TV craze and is airing cut 80s movies in place of the classic shows they used to air in prime time.

The great thing about DTV is that Weigel now can provide full-power broadcasts of the analog low power stations, opening these stations to a wider audience. Additionally, the stations allow a new source of advertising revenue for the company, where advertisers can buy time where they were outbid by competitors getting time on the major network affiliates, usually at a more affordable ad rate. Until more advertisers fill the break times, MeTV is filling time with the occasional NAB PSA, but also classic TV commercials from their archives, which are pretty neat to watch.

As I mentioned, MeTV was just added for the Milwaukee audience on WDJT-DT. However, with WDJT a CBS affiliate, and MeTV Milwaukee not yet available on analog, WDJT was able to pre-empt their regular MeTV programming on 58.3 to offer an alternate CBS Sports feed to their primary channel during the NCAA Mens basketball tournament, giving DTV fans an HD broadcast of their scheduled game, and a standard definition simulcast of an alternate game, which I have been enjoying for free over the air. As I write this, I had witnessed on 58.3 an amazing comeback attempt by Western Kentucky in their battle with top-seeded UCLA, once they came close and the other regional semifinal was pretty much over but the shouting, the network feed on the main channel switched over to Western Kentucky-UCLA, but not before the comeback peaked. This was a lot easier for me than to try and wait to see the games online. However, only one HD feed was available over the air; for full HD multi-game coverage, you had to order it from DirecTV.

Still, this is an example of how the DTV multicast model can provide viewers a low-cost option to the television they want, while providing broadcasters new opportunities for revenue. It will be interesting to see if other small media companies will do the same and offer viewers more choices and localized programming while resisting selling to major media companies. You can get more information on MeTV by visiting http://www.metvchicago.com/ or http://www.metvmilwaukee.com/.

Finally on a personal side note, I would like to give to a shout out to Cymon's Place on Blogger for sharing his experience in getting a Zenith DTT900 DTV converter box with a $40 voucher he recently received, as well as making my blog a "blog of note". Since LG Electronics aquired Zenith, they have been making high quality DTV tuners, including the standard for the latest generation of DTV tuner chipsets that can decode DTV tuners even in areas of multipath. With the box retailing for $60 and from a solid brand name, I guess I know what I will get when my coupon finally arrives. There is also a good review of this converter box that you can read on home theater consultant Peter Putman's HDTV Expert Web site.