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.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009


With about six weeks left to the June 12th deadline for broadcasters to power down their full power over the air analog broadcasts, here are a few updates:

  • Several stations went ahead with an early shutdown in April; any stations that didn't will do so in June. One station in Chicago, WYCC, a public TV station owned by the city colleges of Chicago, shut down its analog signal on April 16th. Where I live in northern Illinois, I saw static on analog channel 20, a good DTV signal on 20-1 (HD), -2 (SD simulcast), and -3 (MHz Worldview with international news and entertainment).
  • Local stations and the NAB spots are reminding viewers to rescan their DTV off-air tuners after June 12th, the reason being that some stations will be changing their DTV frequency to their final FCC approved frequency.
  • I recently saw a scroll on WLS ABC-7 in Chicago informing viewers that they will shut their analog broadcast down at noon Chicago time on June 12th and because they will revert to their channel 7 VHF signal as their final DTV signal, that over the air viewers will require a good VHF/UHF antenna to get all the channels, which is the way it has to be.
  • Speaking of the right VHF/UHF antennas, there is a good article on indoor antennas recommended for VHF DTV reception by RF expert Doug Lung at this link to the TV Technology magazine Web site: http://www.tvtechnology.com/article/79862. I highly recommend reading this if your old fashioned rabbit ears are not cutting it for receiving digital broadcasts after getting your converter box or new digital TV.
  • Back to ABC7 Chicago - ABC owned and operated stations have started a new DTV sub channel, LiveWell HD, a lifestyle channel which loops six half-hour shows. They are presented in 720p HD, although the quality of this channel is average compared to the primary ABC HD channel. According to a Wikipedia entry for one LiveWell affiliate, the primary ABC HD streams at 10 Mbps in 720p, LivWell at 5 Mbps in 720p, and a weather/news channel in 480i standard definition in 480i. As a comparison, some Internet HD videos are in 720p, and download speeds of 7 to 8 Mbps are recommended. Simply put, the slower the bit rate, the less the picture quality. This multicast channel is available in limited markets - you can get information on this channel at http://www.livewellhd.com/.
  • As of May 1st, Nielsen reports that about 3.5 million of the over 100 million U.S. households are considered completely unready for the June 12th analog shutoff, which, at 3.1%, is a significant reduction of the percentage of households unready back at the start of 2009. The two significant markets least prepared are Santa Fe, NM (8.77% of households unprepared) and Dallas-Fort Worth TX (6.62% of households unprepared). While the improvement, coming after the DTV coupons become more available as part of the recent stimulus package, justified the deadline delay from February 17 to June 12, I would not expect another delay.
  • This time of year would be a good time to check the antenna connected to the DTV box as rainy and unstable air this time of year reduces the amount of signal reaching your antenna. On clear days with high barometric pressure, the signals come in much stronger than days with low barometric pressure with heavy rain and wind. So if you are witnessing this, feel free to browse around the archives with tips on improving your off-air DTV reception.


Blogger Tiphanie G said...

With the DTV offerings (and a small child), my spouse and I are wanting to cancel our Directv subscription and go to OTA free television. However, we are completely ignorant in this, seeing as how neither of us have used OTA since we were small children. From my research, I have discovered that we need a medium multidirectional antenna and our tv has a built-in digital tuner (no need for converter box). Since you're a former antenna guru, can you help us to know what we need in order to get started? We would like to mount the antenna in the attic if possible (but it's probably not advised).

6:35 AM  

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