The Dark Side of DTV Transition

We’re now less than a year away from the end of analog broadcasts for local television stations, and we keep finding out little tidbits of information that indicate that the transition may not be as smooth as we might like.

Last week, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin testified before Congress that as many as 5% of users who get converter boxes will find that they will still lose television service. It turns out that the existing analog broadcasts often reach beyond their expected coverage area, and it is likely that the digital signals will not be received in many of those areas. According to Martin, these people shouldn’t have been getting reception in the first place, so it’s not the FCC’s fault if they can’t get the digital signals.

Fortunately, many of these people may be able to solve the problem without resorting to a cable or satellite subscription. It may be that upgrading their antenna system may do the trick. Going from rabbit ears to a better antenna, or adding a signal amplifier may be sufficient to pull in the signal.

The key is to find out now what your reception will be, before you lose the analog signals. If you want to find out about what your antenna requirements are likely to be for digital signals in your area, check out the Consumer Electonics Association’s www.antennaweb.org site. It lets you enter your address, and it will tell you what type of antenna you will need for digital signal reception. And if you need a uni-directional antenna, it will give you the compass headings for the stations in your area.

If you rely on the free, over-the-air broadcast television signals, it’s better to find out now if you whether or not you might have a problem pulling in the digital signals. This will give you time to make any changes before the analog signals go dark next year.