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.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


With a new presidential administration now beginning, one of its first issues is, should the DTV transition be delayed from 2/17/09 to June 12th? The primary reason for this delay under consideration is that the DTV converter box program run out of funds, and coupons, forcing those who apply for coupons to be on a waiting list and making the 6-8 weeks for delivery even longer.

I have a few additional arguments supporting the delay. One is the programming - broadcast prime time audiences become significantly lower over the summer months, and there are not that many huge sporting events in June (CORRECTION 1/25/09 - The proposed June 12th shutoff date may be about the time the deciding games of the 2009 NBA Finals and NHL Stanley Cup finals are played, so for some this MAY be an issue). Another is the weather - as I mentioned in a previous post long ago, if people in February do hook up their converter boxes to an outdoor rooftop antenna only to discover they have to either readjust their antenna or purchase a completely different one, are such people really going to go up on an icy roof on a cold day in February to do this? Finally, there is the fact that June 12th is a Friday, which would make installing and configuring a DTV box a weekend project for those who have to adjust, whereas February 17th is on a Tuesday, the middle of the week. One other advantage of shutting the analog signals down on the weekend is it may allow more people to volunteer over the weekend to assist in DTV box installations and configurations, either by visiting households or taking calls in support call centers.

Unfortunately I do not see the delay passing in time because of resistance by companies who have planned to test and deploy new systems in the 700 MHz band to be freed up following the transition. Also, anti-delayers believe an eleventh hour change of the shutdown date will do nothing more than make consumers even more confused about the transition.

But when the date does arrive, some full power broadcasters will be participating in a 30-day "nightlight" period, where these stations analog broadcasts will continue, except it will not be the regular programming, but rather looping spots letting people know the DTV transition has happened, and what to do about it before these signals go off the air permanently. Additionally, in case of emergencies, these analog broadcasts will have news and information. Only several local stations will actually participate in this nightlight period; those stations with analog broadcasts from channels 52-69 cannot participate so this frequency band will be freed up.

UPDATE: On February 4th, two weeks from the original deadline, the House of Representatives passed a majority vote already unanimously approved by the Senate to delay the transition date to June 12th. As I post this, the bill still requires President Obama's signature, which is very likely. Some areas however may still go ahead and complete the transition before the new deadline date; for example, Hawaii has already completed the DTV switch, and most stations in the San Diego area will proceed with going exclusively digital on February 17th as originally planned.


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