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September 20, 2009

DTV: Problems Abound

If you receive your television signal via antenna, you most likely have noticed that your ability to watch and enjoy television has changed since the switch to digital television, or DTV. When you are able to receive the channel you want to watch, and the signal is strong, the picture is significantly better than what you saw before the switch, and sound is pretty good too.

However, the problem is actually getting that signal. With analog television (the way television was being broadcast until the switch), even in the event of a weak signal, you at least received a picture, even if it might have been a bit snowy, and the sound always came through. With digital television, it is a whole different story. With DTV, it seems to be close to an all or nothing proposition. Either you get the signal or you don't. Or, if you sort-of get a signal, the picture freezes or is pixelated, and the sound either continues with a jumpy or frozen picture, or everything just stops.

According to this article, at least part of the problem may be that stations that were previously broadcasting their digital signals on the UHF frequency have been forced to move to the VHF frequency. The indoor antennas that could bring in even weak analog signals on the VHF frequency seem unable to bring in weak digital signals on that frequency. But don't run out to buy a more expensive antenna because, due to the broadcast frequency problems and the weak power of some of those signals, a more expensive antenna may not bring any improvement.

Also, according to the same article: "[A]t least 20 VHF stations have asked the Federal Communications Commission to move their digital signals back to UHF, and more would like to do so. However, the government has sold off some of the UHF band to cell phone carriers, leaving less space for TV channels. Another portion is planned to be used for emergency services, which was another reason for the digital TV transition."

This writer and viewer hopes that a solution is found soon. It is very frustrating for many in this country, who either cannot afford or have no interest in switching to cable or satellite TV, when they can no longer watch television because the government essentially took that option away.

And, by the way, there are sometimes problems with cable and satellite TV. Pictures freeze there too.

Richard L. Kuper,
The Kuper Report

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