DTV reception woes overstated?


Since the introduction of DTV, station operators have been pleasantly surprised with the performance of the digital signal, especially in fringe areas. Stations have reported good reception more than 20 miles beyond their predicted Grade-B area. Television stations trying to gain carriage on head ends of rural cable systems have found that their DTV signals effectively do so. These head ends did not get reliable analog reception, and have therefore added the stations have added cable carriage. These rural cable head ends pick up the DTV signals over the air and downconvert the signal to analog for their analog tier.

My belief is the Centris study which indicates that there will be substantial reception problems in outlying areas is counterfactual. It leads its reader to worry in situations where in fact reception is good. In fact, we have found that DTV signals are most often received at farther distances than predicted and the pictures are crystal clear, without snow, sparkles or ghosts.

The Centris studies are computer projections and not actual reception checks. Actual reception of DTV signals in, at, and beyond a station’s predicted coverage have in fact been exceptionally good if anything approaching a proper antenna is used.

Households wishing to receive signals after the analog turn off will in some instances need to replace their antennas. In many markets UHF only antennas will suffice, in additional markets an antenna with both UHF and high band VHF is called for, and in some markets an antenna with sufficient gain on UHF, and both low and high band VHF is called for. There are many VHF-only antennas in outlying areas — these need replacement. And DTV convertor boxes will not work for the consumer unless they are connected to an antenna.

Hal Protter

Sr. VP/Technology

The CW Television Network

Burbank CA