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, April 03, 2008


Well beyond the major broadcasters, or rather, stations with full power facilities to cover their viewing market, are little "low power" stations, which have call letters ending in "-CA" or "-LP", that broadcast over the air programming at lower power than the major stations, but do have an audience. So watches them? Well, there are low power stations with religious programming, others have ethnic programming, and still others would be known as "community broadcasters" offering information to that community. So while the audience may be small, it is not like there is one for these stations.

These stations are usually owned by individuals or by smaller media companies that operate on limited budgets, so they are usually not capable of getting brand new DTV facilities. The good is, the FCC have given these stations a longer schedule to convert to digital, so those stations will continue to broadcast their analog TV after February 2009. Technically, not ALL television will convert entirely to digital next year.

But now, these low power station operators are crying foul at the DTV transition, feeling they are being left out of the process. They already have fired shots at the National Association of Broadcasters claiming their public education has been using confusing language that all over the air TV will be digital in February 2009. Well, now if you have been watching the NAB PSAs on the DTV conversion, they have added a disclaimer "The DTV transition does not affect low power stations".

Additionally, last week, a group known as the Community Broadcasters Association that represent low power broadcasts, filed a federal lawsuit against consumer electronics manufacturers making DTV converter boxes that do not have a "pass through" option, which would allow these boxes to pass analog signals and allow viewers to continue to watch these low power broadcasts. To put it another way, those viewers with an old TV set that has a coax input to the tuner and do not use the same connections as the RCA for a VCR would essentially rely on the DTV box to watch TV. According to the CBA, some of these converter boxes that are approved by the NTIA in their coupon program do not pass analog signals, so they feel these boxes will take their audience away.

Now one thing a viewer could do is get a two-way coax splitter, one output to the old TV tuner, and the other to the DTV box, so they could get these low power analog broadcasts, but the only way that would work is if the TV had these RCA inputs, like the ones used to connect a DVD player. The Consumer Electronics Association commented on this lawsuit, claming it to be "irresponsible", and that it would cause a meaningless delay in the DTV transition.

I got a message from a friend in Australia who bought a DTV converter box for his widescreen TV, and he seemed a bit disappointed to see he lost a low-power community station in the process. So, are there others in the US who have been enjoying a low power broadcast and wonder where it went when they get their converter boxes? Personally, I mentioned Weigel Broadcasting simulcasting their low-power analog stations on their full-power station's DTV multicast, so whether Weigel will continue broadcasting their low power stations on analog remains to be seen.