Since we watch television via satellite (DISH network now, DirecTV soon), the February 17 changeover from analog to digital won't affect us -- since satellite already uses a 100% digital signal.
However, quite a few rural viewers are going to find favorite stations disappearing in a few weeks, even if they've gotten a converter box that allows an old television to tune in digital TV (new televisions have a built-in digital tuner).
Harry, a HinesSight regular who, like me, lives in rural Oregon, made me aware of this problem recently via email. He wanted me to complain about the changeover.
And no, I am not going to pay. We got our converter box and erected the biggest TV antenna you have ever seen. We get Ch 22. Period. Even channels that are REALLY sharp in analog; nothing. "No signal"
Will you consider ripping on this subject? I would like to see a 2 year extension on analog.
Glad to oblige. Didn't Descartes say I blog, therefore I rant (or something like that)?
First, since Harry wasn't an Obama supporter I can't resist pointing out that here's an issue he and Barack agree on. The Obama transition team is calling for a delay in switching from analog to digital TV transmission.
Before writing this post I had to educate myself some on the issue through the University of Google.
I learned that the digital go-or-no-go Harry mentioned is called the "cliff effect." Because your reception falls off a sharp cliff into unwatchable land if you live quite a ways from a digital transmission, or are in a valley beyond a TV tower's line of sight.
With analog signals you can have a sort-of-watchable signal. I remember this from my childhood days, since we lived in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains and got a fuzzy picture at best.
But you could watch it. With digital, though, the picture is either there or it isn't, as Consumers Union points out.
The all-or-nothing nature of digital broadcasts also comes into play. With analog stations, a weak signal can still yield a watchable picture—it might be snowy or have ghosts, but you'll get a continuous picture and uninterrupted sound.
If you're getting marginal reception of digital signals, both the picture and sound might freeze or break up to the point that it's not watchable. If you're really on the fringes—either too far from a tower or with too many obstacles in the way—you'll see a black screen that says "Weak or no signal."
Apparently this is happening with Harry. I feel for him.
And for millions of other Americans, many of them low-income, who are going to get screwed over when the digital changeover happens and they suddenly find themselves watching a big blank nothing on TV.
I'd been under the impression that the main problem was the feds running out of money to fund the coupon program that lowered the cost of getting a conversion box. (People now are being put on a waiting list to get the coupons.)
I hadn't realized that some rural residents won't be able to get a watchable digital signal even if they've gotten a box and upgraded their antenna, as Harry has.
Over the air digital TV doesn't travel as far, or as well, as analog TV. There are resources that help a person choose the best antenna for their location. But if you live in a digital broadcast desert, no antenna is going to bring in the analog stations that you used to enjoy watching.
Unfortunately, there's a chance no antenna will work for you. Recent reports indicate that some households are in fringe areas with poor reception, and for them, off-air digital TV might not be a good option.
That leaves them with an expensive "let them eat cake" (cable or satellite service) option. Or to go television hungry.
I don't know what the solution is. Seemingly nobody does. So it seems reasonable to do as Obama suggests: put the digital changeover on hold for a while.
Study the situation some more. Give rural and low-income people more time to adjust to digital over the air broadcasting.
If you've lost your job, the last thing you need is to lose your free TV also.
Because of where I live, Coast Range of Oregon, I haven't had regular TV since the dish became available. What we got from an antennae were a couple of stations with static; but I have followed this issue and agree with Obama that it's good to delay the onset.
The Bush administration so typically has never gotten it that you can't just say something works and have it work; and the 20+% of Americans who still believe what he said, find with something like this that the truth is in the picture! At least it's one you cannot say look at what a good job we did and convince anybody.
Posted by: Rain | January 14, 2009 at 07:52 AM
Will my rabbit ears attenna, used on my 20" analog bedroom TV, work with the conversion box, I need to purchase? 10 years ago, the 20" analog TV was a gift, and still performs perfectly. The coupon will arrive 1-23-09, supposedly. I hate to purchase the box, then my 20" TV, burns out, a week later. Go Obama Go....get that digital conversion delayed........Go Obama Go......do this first, then work on the economy........hahaha.....
Posted by: Roger | January 14, 2009 at 10:55 AM
If you've lost your job, losing your TV is the best thing that can happen. Go to the library, go for a walk, get out and volunteer (best way to make contacts and build experience to get another job).
TV is nothing but a trance-generating machine that allows you to watch other people having a pretend life while the hours of your own disappear, never to return.
The best thing that could happen in America with this switchover is if people, especially poor people, just seized the opportunity to switch off TV from their lives.
Get rid of your TV and replace it with a life. Or keep your old set, plug a DVD player into it, and watch only things that you would go out of your way to select. You'll save thousands of dollars over your lifetime on cable/satellite either way and you'll do a much better job with your kids.
As the t-shirt with the TV set illustration says "Why do you think they call it programming?"
Posted by: John Gear | January 14, 2009 at 12:02 PM
Roger, from what I've read it all depends on the signal strength. If you're very close to the digital TV transmission tower, then rabbit ears might work. Otherwise, some other sort of antenna is going to be needed.
The alternative to a converter box, of course, is to get a new digital ready TV. For a few hundred dollars such can be purchased. People have to decide whether it makes sense to get a box when an old analog TV may not last much longer.
Posted by: Brian | January 14, 2009 at 12:25 PM
John Gear, I agree with most of what you say.
I do however like to catch the news, 60 minutes, OPB, and music or history specials when they are aired.
All of the ads that you see about the DTV transition paint such a pretty picture, "All you need is a converter box, hook it up correctly and you're in business!"
Sorry, no where near reality.
We purchaced a "rural" VHF / UHF TV antenna that has a footprint the size of a car. We get analog CHRYSTAL CLEAR. Digital? ZIP!!!!
We have played around with the setup and the best signal strength so far is 14%.
We will never, ever pay for TV so it looks like we'll be joining John Gear fairly soon if our new president (I'll comment on him in another topic) doesnt insist on delaying the transition.
NOTICE TO ADVERTIZERS ON TV:
Your viewership is about to take a significant drop. Your advertizing dollar is better spent elsewhere than TV in my opinion, if there is not a remedy to the DTV transition fiasco!!!
Posted by: Harry Vanderpool | January 14, 2009 at 01:29 PM
I disagree on TV being a time waster. I think it depends on what you watch. There are many choices if you pay for it and I decide what I want to take into my mind. Sometimes it's a movie. Sometimes it's Daily Show. Sometimes it's history or discovery channels. There are music programs and yes, there's news but those of you who believe you do not need to be educated as to what is going on in the world are part of the problem. Newspapers, computers and TV all give information and when they are putting out propaganda, you didn't think you needed to know as it won't impact you? How did you come to that conclusion?
I don't watch any regular programming on TV; so miss out on some of our cultural influences but I can't stand watching most TV shows. I am still convinced believing in 24/7 (or whatever it's called) is part of how Cheney became convinced torture was a good idea.
This week-end I saw a program on history channel that explored the predictions of Nostradamus, Masons, Bible, Mayans and looked at possible natural disasters that might fit with them if 2012 is going to be as 'interesting' as some expect. Do I believe it'll be the end of the world? No, but it didn't hurt me to see what is being predicted about it. If I start seeing signs that mean I'm wrong, I'll at least be alert to it. Yesterday I had Cable TV on just long enough to watch some news on cable which were mostly interviews and debates. I can get a lot of that on the computer but who's to say it's less biased.
To add to it, we joined Netflix-- another thing we pay for-- and get one movie at a time but unlimited each month. They come in really fast and it's how fast we get them back as to how economical they are. There are a lot of documentaries in their selections and so far it's working out a lot better for us than trying to find something on cable movies even with so many channels from which to select.
Posted by: Rain | January 15, 2009 at 07:35 AM
I'm assuming, you purchased the convertion box, and your huge antenna(predigital) is not receiving (14%) much digital? So, Ones antenna needs to have some sort of "digital" capability?
My silly example or situation,
My 20" analog TV, that I received free
some 10 years ago, still works perfectly. It currently has a value of $0.50. The net cost of convertion box is roughly $20.00, plus the possible cost of a digital(?) antenna $15 -20. Probably, will spent $50 to get this TV, setup for 2-17-09.
At WalMart, the current digital RCA 20" TV is on sale for $124.00 with a DVD player.
This is a huge problem, for me. Much bad karma, has come my way. Times like this, I wish I had been reincarnated as a Frog or something.
Poor me, what am I to do.........maybe I should perform some volunteer work.....at meals on wheels.
Posted by: Roger | January 15, 2009 at 07:48 AM
Obama's advisor on the digital TV thing has a conflict of interest - he works with Sprint, which is rolling out it's it's 4G broadband service on some spectrum they picked up somewhere... and their competitor Verizon has to wait for the switch because their 4G service will apparently move into the current Analog TV spectrum.
Delay the switch, Sprint profits at Verizon's loss.
And who the heck said that TV reception was a constitutional right anyway? Get a dish.
Posted by: Jeff Shultz | January 17, 2009 at 04:08 PM
>>>And who the heck said that TV reception was a constitutional right anyway? Get a dish.<<<
No dishes, no cable, no bills.
How much money you have and earn is only one side of the equation.
If I wanted to make payments, which I do not, I sure would not piss my money away on TV.
Bingo and casino attendance isn't a constitutional right either. I don't waste money there either.
TV has been free since day one.
If I have to pay for it, I will opt for two things that I GREATLY PREFER; reading and radio.
ATTENTION TV ADVERTIZERS: Thank you for sponsoring 50 years of TV for me. Unfortunatly, if you want to reach me after the DTV change it will be through radio!
Posted by: Harry Vanderpool | January 17, 2009 at 05:55 PM
TV has been free _if you were in range of the signal_.
Unfortunately, that has just changed for you.
Posted by: Jeff Shultz | January 17, 2009 at 06:55 PM
I have had a sat for about 10 years now. But for those people who cannot affard a bill every mouth this is a problem. I live in a rural area tv is very weak for those who live around me with a antenna. I hope they will be able to continue to watch tv. I think they need to be a crick down on the sat enterre. Its not right that I am paying 60 dollars a mouth for service. But the thing that makes me mad over 20 percent of want I watch is advertising. So they are making money off me and the advertiser. Thats not fair what I would like is for the obama team to crack down on the sat people and make rates go to almost nothing that want we really need. If anyone agrees with me feel free to email me [email protected]
I would like to hear your opionon on this
Posted by: Curt Dawg | January 25, 2009 at 04:57 PM
Please attempt to launch and maintain your own telecom satellite.
Tell me how far that gets you.
Posted by: Jeff Shultz | January 26, 2009 at 07:09 AM
Didn't get my $40.00 coupon on Jan. 23th, as directed from recording, off my telephone request. Congress will need to authorize more funds, or delay the digital transfer for 3 months. At Walmart, the conversion box is selling for $49.95. So, roughly $10 plus to get. In addition, my powered rabbit ears will work on digital.
The GODS are shining their grace upon me.
I am special, in a Godly sort of way....
Posted by: Roger | January 26, 2009 at 08:55 AM
Interesting discussion about DTV. I just returned from attempt #3 at putting yet another outdoor antenna on my mother's place near Silver Falls State Park. She gets "ok" analog but nothing other than KOAC-DT on the digital box. It may be time for a switch to satellite, but I hate seeing one more "Free" service disappearing for those not in the mainstream of city life.
Posted by: Paul | February 16, 2009 at 08:27 AM
If you live in the city you have no problem. all use folks out in the boonies are going to be left with NOTHING.
DTV is a scam.
Spread the word:
Posted by: sean | March 15, 2009 at 02:53 PM
ATTENTION....ATTENTION....BREAKING NEWS EVENT
On April 17, 2009, my $40 government coupon shall expire. Therefore, on April 16th, I shall proceed to either WalMart of BestBuy to finalize my purchase.
This 16th day shall be a day of true AWAKENING, one of ENLIGHTENMENT, or possibly just another day.
I officially begin MY countdown.
Posted by: Roger | April 06, 2009 at 10:42 AM
I live in rural Southern Ohio where I got OK reception of analog, but with digital it is very poor, if I can get anything at all. I have tried for a year to make improvements to my DTV signal, but have had no luck. I have the largest Radio Shack outdoor antenna on my roof, as well as a 36 dB amp/pre-amp. Early in 2008, I was upset because I tried to get in digital signals not knowing that MANY stations were not running on full power. This was never stated, nor do I still know whether they are using full power yet. This makes consumers think they might not have reception, and go and spend lots of time and money on equipment they might not need. No information has been delivered in any way to those living in areas where DTV is nearly impossible to get. I have a degree in EE, but am still confounded on what to buy to make my reception better. I am about to call the FCC in-home service contractors to help me out. I will wait and see what happens when the changeover is complete, and all stations are up and running on full power. I agree DTV is a sham, and the $40 coupon did absolutely nothing for me, it was just a drop in the bucket on how much I will have to spend for an even better antenna, antenna tower, and amp.
Good luck to those other people out there in the same boat!
Posted by: kail | May 19, 2009 at 12:25 PM
Since the changeover from analog to digital, we can no longer receive most digital tv stations in the Pine City, Minnesota, area. We intalled digital tv converters several months ago (without analog pass-through) and we received the already on the air digital tv signals very good. But now we can't receive them. Could the tv stations now be broadcasting weaker digital tv signals? If so, that must be the best kept secrete of the year! Did the public and the government get fooled again?
Posted by: Gary | June 18, 2009 at 10:13 PM
I am kinda disappointed in my convertion box experience. I have to daily tweek my antenna conversion box connection to get a particular channel. Never had to do this under analog
Posted by: Roger | June 19, 2009 at 09:27 AM
This digital changeover absolutely sucks sh*t! I used to get a bunch of analog TV stations but now those same channels and yes I have a converter box and a great big antenna hoisted high and still can't get nothing but Max Headroom type sound and no signal or it goes off and on and is pixelated! I even have a pre-amp on the antenna and still the signal is way messed up! I used to get a little snow now and again when the wind blew, but now it goes blank with a little breeze no matter what direction the antenna is pointed! The government forcing this changeover screwed a bunch of us big time! I cannot afford to pay for satellite and we don't get cable out here! This changeover has made my TV worthless for any kind of off-air broadcasts! The frigging government wanted this change so they should erect some more towers to reach those of us who are to far from existing transmitters! They could put up a few more which could rebroadcast the signals close enough so the majority of us could once again get some reception from the weaker digital signals! From what I have heard I am not alone at all, there are a fair few who are having the same problems I am now! Guess I will watch DVDs or listen to radio unless I win the lottery or something which would allow me to purchase satellite? What a frigging mess! Thanks FCC and Gov!
Posted by: John Calhoun | October 28, 2009 at 04:48 PM
I noticed some comments saying great no TV go out and get a life? That's asinine and ignorant because there are those who are confined by there health or who live in rural areas where there is no mall or going out anywhere and for these TV provides a view of the world which many of these people would otherwise never know about? I can just imagine if there was no TV the clans of people who would never have seen a black person or any number of things which we learn about courtesy of the Tube! This includes health knowledge as well as technology! We would be much more ignorant and backward as a society without TV in my view! But hey if your an anti-TV person then great! Go for it, but don't think to force that upon others who disagree! Besides, I like watching my football team win or lose!
Posted by: John Calhoun | October 28, 2009 at 05:02 PM
it's a nice idea
Posted by: banu | August 29, 2012 at 04:31 AM