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  1. #1
    Contributor Aaron62's Avatar
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    Default WUSA CBS, and WJLA ABC in Washington DC are having problems

    This is another case of both stations switching from UHF to the VHF frequencies:

    WUSA CBS affiliate (Channel 9)
    WJLA, the ABC affiliate (Channel 7)

    Here's some highlights from today's Washington Post article,

    Bill Lord, vice president of news at WJLA in Arlington, said the station has received more than 350 calls from viewers who are having reception problems since Friday's transition. It is holding an online chat at noon today on WJLA.com to answer questions. WUSA could not be reached for comment.
    The Federal Communications Commission is looking into reports of lost stations in several markets, including Chicago and Philadelphia. In some cases, stations may have to increase power levels or add translators to extend the signal to more viewers. About 20 percent of the calls to the agency's DTV hotline were from viewers who had lost at least one station.

    More than 480 stations across the country are now airing broadcasts on VHF stations, FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield said, and 216 stations were operating on those frequencies before the transition. WJLA, for example, was broadcasting its analog signal on Channel 7 and its digital station on Channel 39 before the transition. (Viewers should not have noticed the change.) When it turned off its analog signal, it moved its digital signal to the Channel 7 slot in the VHF band of frequencies.

    As a result, some digital tuners and converter boxes are still trying to pick up programs on the old digital station. Wigfield suggests trying a "double rescan," which involves unplugging the antenna from the converter box or TV, rescanning, turning off the box or TV, then turning it back on, plugging the antenna back in and rescanning once more. The process should clear the tuner's memory so it can locate the digital frequency.

    But it may not clear up all reception issues for consumers. After performing a "double rescan," LaRochelle said he was able to pick up Channels 7 and 9, but only at weak signal strength.

  2. #2

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    More Virginia and Washington DC reception problem stories today.

    Wally Grotophorst in Hamilton, Va., got a "digital" antenna for his digital TV last year. But on Friday, he lost the Washington-based ABC and CBS stations, channels 7 and 9, which he could pick up digitally before the transition.

    That's because those stations, like dozens of others, switched their digital signals from the UHF frequency band to the VHF band as they cut their analog signals Friday. But Grotophorst's antenna, like many others branded as "digital" and sold over the past few years, was designed only for UHF stations. Nearly all TV stations were using the UHF band for the digital broadcasts until Friday.

    "This moving down to the VHF spectrum was news. The stations didn't advertise the fact," Grotophorst said.

    He's now regretting that he recycled his old rooftop VHF antenna.

    "The station did warn viewers about this change but not everyone got the word," said Bill Lord, vice president of news at ABC7. "The station has made the switch and there is no going back."

    There are TV antennas that can receive both UHF and VHF bands. In the indoor version, these have long extendable poles — the "rabbit ears" — for VHF reception and a loop for UHF.
    The Associated Press: Reception problems linger after DTV transition

  3. #3
    Super Moderator Piggie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by O-O View Post
    More Virginia and Washington DC reception problem stories today.
    The Associated Press: Reception problems linger after DTV transition
    This story is verbatim repeated over and over and over. I feel like this was a shared goof by the FCC and the local stations.

    Over on AVS we started talking about it when it happened in markets where stations when back to VHF in April that were approved for early transition. A minature example of what was to come on June 13th, we could now call "The Day After". To give due credit it was Falcon_77 that coined the phrase "Hidden Transition" for stations switching back to VHF.

    Here is the orignal post of Falcon_77 The official upcoming final DTV Table Of Allotments/channel change thread - Page 117 - AVS Forum
    If you are interested read a page or two before that post to see how it came together in to Falcon and to everyone else.

    I wonder how many old TV antennas that would have worked fine were put in the trash can? I know a guy in Vero that had a bunch he found and with a drill and some nuts and bolts has built several antennas from the ones he found.

    ========

    So is it me or do these "mistakes" in informing the public lessen your belief the govt and corporate America has much on the ball?

    Sure antenna companies sold some extra antennas, actually a lot of them. But that was a symptom they took advantage of with less than truthful marketing, calling Antennas HD or DTV antennas or ready. (not to mention the indoor antennas they sold people to take home with a converter box before they even tried their old rabbit ears)

    In the past four months the PSA that didn't warn about needing a VHF antenna in markets kept repeating over and over, you may need an antenna that does both.

    So the FCC knew which towns would have switches and should have posted a list. And said something plainer like you might want to keep your antenna and try it first.
    The more I understand, the less I know.

    PORK... The Other White Meat....

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    Great info Piggie and thanks for tacking on more news O-O. If you check Google for news on "DTV", stories have gone from "Transition is a success" to "reception problems reported in X location". Piggie, do you think the FCC is really to blame in all of this, or isn't it more of a responsibility of TV stations to make sure they get the correct broadcast power correct?

  5. #5

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    More news coverage on Washington DC

    Washington, D.C. CBS affiliate WUSA-TV and ABC affiliate WJLA-TV also moved into the very-high frequency band. E.g., WJLA moved from Channel 39 to its original analog assignment on Channel 7. Both stations have had viewers call in about losing reception in the transition. WPVI-TV, the ABC affiliate in Philadelphia, also moved its digital signal from the UHF into the VHF specrum, The Associated Press said. WPVI was seeking permission from the FCC to increase its power output to mitigate resulting reception problems.
    TVB | Stations Report Signal Loss

  6. #6
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    WJLA news posted 20 minutes ago,

    Jen Sengbusch always enjoyed ABC 7's WeatherNow channel.

    "It was always on our area," she said.

    But the Germantown resident hasn't been able to watch the radar since Friday, when all TV stations in the nation performed their FCC-mandated switch to all digital broadcasting.

    She's one of hundreds of viewers who have complained about problems with the transition.

    Stumped by what was wrong with her TV, Sengbusch called her satellite provider.

    "They said to re-scan everything," Sengbusch recalled. "That didn't work. My husband re-scanned it last night. That didn't work. So he did a little Internet search to see if there were any other issues going on."

    What they learned was that their UHF antenna couldn't receive ABC 7's VHF signal.
    Uhh, note what I bolded and let me know if anything looks odd to you.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron62 View Post
    Great info Piggie and thanks for tacking on more news O-O. If you check Google for news on "DTV", stories have gone from "Transition is a success" to "reception problems reported in X location". Piggie, do you think the FCC is really to blame in all of this, or isn't it more of a responsibility of TV stations to make sure they get the correct broadcast power correct?
    This is my take on what happened knowing the inside story of two (one of thas 2 VHF transmitter). The story was the same.

    The FCC determined on paper (theoretical) the power needed and spacing needed by stations. They did a pretty good job on UHF. They totally blew it on VHF. On VHF they grossly over estimated the range of a station on VHF. This resulted in faulty data presented to the NAB and the stations around the country. Going on what the industry was telling them once the license application process was opened to the station in a flurry they all applied (see next section below). Remember this was all happening 7 to 9 years ago. Engineers really had little to read about it, there was little info and even less practical to go around. So the stations based their channel selections and power levels and spacing, from the data below.

    Then as long as a station followed typical guidelines and didn't apply close spaced, the FCC approved them. In areas like LA, CA and the NE corridor, the FCC is STILL involved it reviewing applications for stations, mostly upgrades.

    Anyway the FCC approved not only insanely low VHF power levels but closer spacing because of the lower power levels. They didn't figure the man made and electrical noise on VHF was so much higher than UHF, that the distance the radio waves alone traveled was not the range of the station, like it is on UHF. For example at 20KW a station's radio waves actually get to the edge of the contour but it can't be locked to the edge of it's contour. More power is needed. But I am a little ahead of myself.

    Once the FCC opened up applying for ATSC licenses, the gold rush was on. It was get it (a license) or forget it. They were all swooped up very fast. For two reasons. With channels 51-69 going by by in the auctions, the choices were fewer. Bands were crowed in many locations. Plus there was a fear of there being auctions later on the channels. There is still talk about this between station engineers. Despite the fact the other stations in town are competition, engineers typically avoid those politics and help and lend each other parts at the drop of a hat. Talk to each other on the phone etc. And the fear to hold channels they have on LP or CA or any type of license is strong, as they figure the next step is they will start bidding on the few remaining channels very soon. I personally don't think it will happen. There aren't enough empty channels left. In Florida there are about 4 premium channels with no co-channel, yet no one has applied. No one has the money to hedge on them.

    So now VHF channels were all grabbed up and in my opinion too close together. Then once they discovered the problem of them covering their contour without enough power, they allowed stations to increase power.

    This solved the problem in areas where there was little skip, but in areas of the country with frequent tropo, the damage was already done. They spaced the channels too close together. Now they allowed power increases so the close spaced channels interfere more.

    There is no turning back now. Any idea they can just go back to their temp UHF channel is urban legend. The UHF band was already so crowed in Los Angeles for example, the temp channel was an out of core channel that is no longer after June 12th a TV channel. Others can't return to their UHF as some other station had applied for that channel post transition.

    To summarize. Nearly a decade ago, the FCC's data on VHF was wrong.
    But it was appealing to station's bean counters as a cheaper solution, after all the FCC and NAB were saying it worked.

    There was no practical data to prove the paper calculations wrong, as no one had built a station. As a matter of fact the standards had to written before the stations could even apply. The standards were appealing to bean counters. The trap was set.

    So in a TV station normally an engineers word is gold, if they have enough gold to implement it. I know at least one station where the engineer warned them but they didn't listen. After all the FCC said it would work.

    Some stations did listen to their engineers but they were the exceptions. WESH in Orlando and a FOX station in the Carolinas whose call I can't remember. Both of them built out 55 KW stations at 500 meters high knowing if they applied first, they would get the allocation.

    The FCC allowed higher power but discoaraged it along with the stations wanting to save money.

    Now what is sad. Between 2008 with some stations switching early, some switching early on Feb 17 and others mid April. The data was in. All of them that ran less than about 40 KW were having trouble. If you read the thread I posted that is when the member of AVS saw the writing on the wall. I saw it in other non technical forums where people knew I was into the transition.

    So by mid April there was a ton of evidence. Some stations in my area like WTLV and WJXX applied for more power. A lot of stations didn't.

    So you see it was a mixed up mess and both the FCC and station management was to blame.
    The more I understand, the less I know.

    PORK... The Other White Meat....

  8. #8
    Super Moderator Piggie's Avatar
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    Facon_77 was absolutely correct. The transition itself of just analog turning off would be trumped by the "Hidden Transition" of stations going to VHF on the transition date that had been running for years on VHF.

    The Hidden Transition is upon us.
    The more I understand, the less I know.

    PORK... The Other White Meat....

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Piggie View Post
    Anyway the FCC approved not only insanely low VHF power levels but closer spacing because of the lower power levels. They didn't figure the man made and electrical noise on VHF was so much higher than UHF, that the distance the radio waves alone traveled was not the range of the station, like it is on UHF. For example at 20KW a station's radio waves actually get to the edge of the contour but it can't be locked to the edge of it's contour. More power is needed. But I am a little ahead of myself.
    Holy cow piggie, thanks for taking the time to explain.

    What I quoted above seems like a huge oversight, especially now that some stations are going back to the FCC and applying for boosting power output (as Trip noted here about 6ABC in Philadelphia).

    Don't know if you've seen k2pg's post yet in the Philadelphia thread, but he has an interesting synopsis of DTV signals as well,

    Although the American DTV system has improved somewhat, areas with a lot of multipath will still get lousy DTV reception. Channel 6 is particularly bad for DTV use, as it is adjacent to the FM broadcast band and strong FM signals may interfere with the DTV tuners and converter boxes. The same interference that would put "worms" (diagonal lines that wiggle with the modulation on the FM station) on the picture of an analog channel 6 station will cause a complete failure of DTV reception on that channel. In Philadelphia, WPVI-TV transmitted at 100 kW visual ERP, which is sufficient to override FM interference within the city grade contour of the TV station. The low ERP of the digital signal will not override this interference. Electrical noise, such as ignition noise from passing cars, will also cause dropouts in DTV reception and low VHF channels are especially susceptible to this.

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