Thursday, February 19, 2009

TV transition may pleasantly surprise viewers

The transition from analog to digital television is exactly that, especially since the deadline to turn off analog signals was extended to June 12. Instead of ending analog signals this week as first planned, stations are now all over the calendar, and that means viewers should keep looking around for new digital signals, writes David Greer of the Kentucky Press Association.

"While the changeover to digital might mean some people lose reception of past favorite channels, other signals might actually come in much better than they did before," Greer said in an e-mail to The Rural Blog. "During this transition period, frequently put your TV or converter box in the automatic channel scan mode. You might pick up something new. Do this every few weeks -- or even days -- between now and the June digital deadline."

Greer gives the latest example at his house in the state capital: "A month ago, using my $10 set of rabbit ears/UHF loop antenna purchased at the Frankfort Big Lots, I scanned the available digital TV signals at my home using the cheap, indoor antenna sitting on my home entertainment center and found I could get eight. ... Last night, just for grins I rescanned and this time I came up with 11 channels. Wow, I thought. Three more. I wonder who they are? I was awestruck when the three new digital channels were WAVE 1, 2 and 3 from Louisville."

Greer says the NBC affiliate "had never produced a good picture on the rabbit ears with its analog signal," but now the evening news anchor "never looked better," the second channel offered movies, syndicated shows and cartoons, and the third was a local weather channel. "It appears WAVE-TV has made some significant change to its HD signal in the past month, perhaps an increase in transmitter power output. ... Much has been written about how analog reception in fringe areas might have been snowy but it still produced pictures and sound that you could watch. And that's true, of course. But in this instance, on the very same antenna in the same spot, the HiDef picture is vastly superior to the analog signal."

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