Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Troubleshooting Your DTV Setup (Updated 12/19)

Many viewers have called with issues setting up their convert boxes or digital television sets.

For some it has been issues of wiring and setup, but for most it has been antenna issues. We encourage you to convert ASAP either with a convert box or the new purchase of a DTV set. APPLY, BUY & TRY... APPLY for the coupon, BUY a box and TRY it now! Act now to work out the bugs... you really don't want to be climbing on your roof next February if its an antenna issue.

NEW INFO (12/19)- This past Wednesday we conducted a soft analog shutoff test. WWNY sent a message to viewers of only our analog signal that they needed to take action as this signal would be turned off in February. We have taken a great volume of calls from viewers (please be patient we are doing our best to return calls). A great number of viewers have made the upgrade either by purchasing a new DTV television set or DTV Converter-box but still saw the message. This is an indication that they were watching the analog signal, not the DTV one. Many new sets have both an analog and DTV tuner built-in. An indication that you are receiving the DTV signal is the channel will display as 7.1 WWNY-HD or 7.2 WNYF-SD. Channel 7.0 is the analog signal. If you cannot see 7.1 or 7.2 you may need to go into the setup menu of your set or box and re-scan for DTV channels...or you may need an antenna upgrade.

One thing as it relates to WWNY. In February WWNY will be changing DTV frequencies and power levels. If you experience difficulty with reception now, these changes should improve your chances of getting WWNY. We suggest you re-scan your DTV channels often, after antenna adjustments, and especially after 2/17/09.

Official FCC info on DTV Converter Box and DTV Set Troubleshooting

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Wilmington Example and What Watertown Can Learn From It

The Wilmington NC television market voluntarily completed its DTV transition from analog to DTV on September 8, 2008. Their pioneering spirit and action has been closely followed by government officials and fellow broadcasters. Lessons learned from Wilmington could help the rest of the country when the February 17, 2009 analog cutoff deadline is met.

Of the 1221 phone calls received in Wilmington's first 2 days of the analog cutoff, only 23 were from viewers who were unaware of the switch. Many of the calls related to converter box setup issues or a lack of reception.

So what can Watertown viewers take from Wilmington.

First, get your DTV converter box prior to the February cutoff. WWNY has been broadcasting a full-time DTV signal since 2003. This is a transition from analog to DTV broadcasts. February 17, 2009 marks the day analog broadcasts end, not the day DTV begins. In fact, 1631 stations are broadcasting digitally now in 211 TV markets. That represents 76% of all US homes.

Take advantage of the clearer pictures, sound, and additional channels now. Transitioning to DTV now provides you time to fine-tune converter box setup issues or time to fine-tune or address antenna issues without missing out on any of your favorite programs.

Common setup issues include not setting your analog television to channel 3 or 4 before turning on the converter box. Not re-scanning for channels after re-orienting the antenna. Not properly attaching the antenna to the DTV set or converter box.

Antennas are key to good reception. Theoretically if you receive a strong analog signal from your favorite television station, you should receive their DTV signal with no problems. If you live in a fringe area you may have issues with reception.

With DTV you either get a perfect signal or none at all (this is called the "cliff-effect"). With analog broadcasts weak reception results in a snowy or ghosty signal.

Antenna selection and orientation is key. You might visit http://www.antennaweb.org/ for selection of an antenna and tips on orientation. Keep in mind an outdoor antenna is always the best bet for reception.

Now something you need to know. WWNY currently broadcasts on a UHF frequency...on February 17, 2009 WWNY will change to a VHF frequency. If you are purchasing an antenna be sure to buy a combo UHF/VHF antenna. In February you will likely need to re-scan your receiver since we are changing frequencies.

Why are we making this change? Because VHF frequencies are less affected by the terrain and weather conditions. Folks living in fringe areas may have a better time receiving WWNY after we make this change. WWNY has also applied for a power increase. This too is to counter any reception issues, especially for viewers that live in fringe areas.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

The Basics

Much has been published or broadcast on the television industry’s transition to digital and the shutoff of analog broadcasts in February of 2009. Here are the main points you need to know as it relates to Watertown, NY and the broadcasts of WWNY & WNYF.

  • On 2/17/2009 all full-power analog broadcasts from stations in the United States will end. Analog broadcasts from Canada and our low-powered stations WNYF-CA, Watertown & WNYF-LP, Massena will continue. Eventually these stations will be converted to digital as well.

  • If you are a cable subscriber, you will not be affected by the analog shutoff in February 2009. The cable companies will convert WWNY’s & WNYF’s DTV signal for display on your older analog TV. If you subscribe to Time Warner Cable systems and utilize an HDTV you can also receive WWNY & WNYF’s HDTV broadcasts.

  • If you view our televisions stations via an antenna you will need a newer television with a built-in DTV tuner or a DTV converter box. The converter box will convert our DTV broadcasts to an analog format for your older television set to display. The newer set does not have to be an HDTV to receive the digital signals, including our HDTV broadcasts, but you must utilize an HDTV to enjoy the full resolution 16:9 widscreen pictures of those HDTV broadcasts.

  • If you subscribe to a satellite service, but utilize an antenna to receive the local stations for your Network programming, you will need a newer television with a built-in tuner or a DTV convert box. Currently none of the satellite providers transmit Watertown local stations on their system. (In some circumstances you may qualify for distant market Network feeds, and the satellite company will make the conversion for an older analog TV.)

  • WWNY currently is broadcasting digitally (WWNY-DT) and provides the programming of WNYF FOX-28 on a secondary DTV channel. This service will continue after 2/17/2009. This “multi-cast” channel of WWNY-DT is in standard definition 4:3 ration pictures, while WWNY-DT’s primary DTV channel of WWNY’s CBS programming is in 16:9 widescreen HDTV. When programs are not originated in 16:9 HDTV, 4:3 programs are upconverted and have black or colored bars on the sides to fill the 16:9 screen. This is called pillar boxed.

  • Current DTV broadcasts are on the UHF frequency of channel 35. After 2/17/2009 all of WWNY’s DTV broadcasts will be on VHF channel 7. This move is being made to improve the reception for viewers in fringe areas and to reduce our energy consumption and costs. VHF signals are also less affected by the terrain & weather conditions. DTV sets currently display our channels as 7.1 WWNY-HD and 7.2 WNYF SD. This branding will remain the same after 2/17/2009, only the physical transport is changing..

  • Good signal reception is critical to DTV viewing. An outdoor antenna, orientated towards the TV station is always the best choice for reception. For assistance with the selection and orientation of the antenna you might visit http://www.antennaweb.org/.

  • Sometime after 2/17/2009, our low-powered station WNYF-CA, Watertown will broadcast digitally as WNYF-DC. These digital broadcasts will be in 16:9 HDTV. While the service area is greater than WNYF-CA’s analog signal, they still are not as great as WWNY-DT’s. WNYF-LP in Massena will be converted to DTV at a later date.

WWNY-TV- analog broadcasts on VHF channel 7 (will cease on 2/17/2009).

WWNY-DT- digital broadcasts, currently on UHF channel 35, will broadcast on VHF channel 7 after 2/17/2009. Channel 7.1 is WWNY (CBS) in 16:9 HDTV, channel 7.2 standard definition 4:3 broadcasts of WNYF (FOX).

WNYF-CA- analog broadcasts on UHF channel 28 from Watertown, NY

WNYF-LP- analog broadcasts on UHF channel 28 from Massena, NY

WNYF-CD- digital broadcasts of WNYF (FOX) in 16:9 HDTV, sometime after 2/17/2009

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

More Info

Monday WNYF-CA, our low-powered FOX station from Watertown, was granted a construction permit to build a new low-powered DTV facility for our FOX programming. It will utilize channel 35 which is being vacated by WWNY after February 2009.

What is worth noting is WNYF's DTV facility will have a much greater range than its analog counterpart. In fact, the service contour predicted by engineers encompasses almost all of Jefferson and a good part of Lewis Counties. WWNY-DT will continue to multicast the programming of WNYF on a secondary channel for folks who live beyond WNYF's DTV service area....the only difference is the stand-alone DTV channel will be in HDTV, while the secondary channel is in standard-definition. As is the case with WWNY's return to channel 7 the "branding" will remain channel 28 even though the transport is on the frequency of channel 35.

This action by the FCC addresses our FOX transmitter in Watertown. Plans for WNYF-LP, the FOX transmitter in Massena, are not complete at this time.

As previously noted, antenna selection can make a great difference in receiving DTV signals. Here is an interesting article on this situation...there are also links at the bottom of the stories with links to more info on DTV....all worth reading.

DTV Upgrade Proves Costly, Headachy

Monday, June 23, 2008

Better Reception

Last Tuesday, June 17, WWNY was granted a Construction Permit (CP) to build an a VHF DTV Channel 7 facility that will begin broadcasting 2/17/2009. It is also a CP for a service area that replicates our analog service area (our original assignment did not, but now after waiting for Canadian coordination and approval it does.)

As you might recall, WWNY was originally assigned UHF channel 35 for DTV operations that began full-time operations in 2003. We were to operate both analog channel 7 and UHF DTV channel 35 until 2/17/2009. On 2/17/2009 analog channel 7 must be turned off. On that date we will start DTV broadcasts on VHF channel 7 and DTV broadcasts on channel 35 for WWNY will end. This is being done because VHF channel 7 is a frequency less affected by terrain issues and weather conditions. It is also more energy efficient to operate.

For most viewers the change will go unnoticed, DTV tuners currently say we are channels 7.1 WWNY-HD and 7.2 WNYF FOX-28, and they will continue to say that after 2/17/2009. The transport, if you will, will change not the channel identification or its programming. For others the change to a VHF frequency with improve their chances to receive our signal, especially in terrain challenged and fringe areas.

Friday, WWNY applied for an increase in power over what was approved on Tuesday. This was done to expand and improve our signal in those same terrain challenged and fringe areas we had hoped to reach with the approval we received Tuesday. It also might help compensate for the differences in DTV signals and analog signals (the cliff effect.)

Sometime after 2/17/2009 we hope to begin DTV broadcasts on channel 35 for WNYF FOX-28 in HDTV. Whenever that occurs the branding will continue as FOX-28 even though the "transport" is on the frequency of channel 35.

The FCC has recently posted the following new DTV publications. Please click on the links to view:

- Basic Guide to Setting UP Your Digital to Analog Converter Box: http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/converterbox-analog-digital.pdf

-Setting up your Digital-to-Analog Converter Box with a VCR: http://www.dtv.gov/factsheets/converterbox_vcr.pdf

-Video Descriptions & the DTV transition. http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/dtvvideodescription.pdf

-Setting up your Digital-to-Analog Converter Box (basic with twin-lead antenna wire) http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts/setup-converterbox-balun.pdf

For a complete listing of all FCC DTV publications, and up to date information on the Digital Transition, please go to www.dtv.gov.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

More DTV Links

Yesterday I learned from the NAB that if a viewer's NTIA coupon is about to expire and local retailers do not have converter boxes in stock, the viewer is encouraged to "pre-purchase" the box...In otherwords, purchase the box from the retailer utilizing your coupon, and wait for him to take delivery at a later time. Another solution might be to purchase a box on-line. There are a number of on-line retailers authorized to take the coupons. One of them is:
http://www.solidsignal.com/. Radio Shack is also offering a DTV Converter Box with analog pass-thru, and its also available on-line: Radio Shack Article

Another handy link regarding DTV/HDTV is:

Article regarding antenna reception.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

NAB Speakers Bureau

Getting the word out about this DTV transition is the job of the NAB, this station and broadcasters in general. If you know a group who could benefit from a one-on-one presentation please contact me. I am one of close to 1000 speakers in the NAB Speakers Bureau. We are speaking to groups all over the country, now thru the February 17, 2009 analog cutoff date.

Please call during normal business hours 8AM-4:30PM, 315-788-3800 to arrange a speech for your group.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

DTV Coverage

As I have reported here and as you may have seen in our Special Report, there are pitfalls to DTV coverage. If you live in an area that gets marginal analog coverage you may not get any DTV coverage. The reason is a the "cliff effect". In the analog world when the signal gets weak you get a snowy/ghosty signal...this snowy and ghosty signal may even be received beyond our expected coverage area. In the digital world you either get a perfect signal or none at all. I guess the name implies you get the signal until you fall off the cliff.

The FCC assigned DTV specifications that were suppose to replicate a station's analog coverage...so theoretically if you get the station's analog signal you should get their DTV one. The real world differs from the theoretical one.

Here is a coverage map for WWNY's analog signal. "Good" reception is expected within the circle...signals may be possible beyond the circle:
Here is the coverage off our current DTV assignment (UHF Channel 35):
After 2/17/2009 WWNY will broadcast digitally on VHF channel 7. We have made application for this coverage area (below)...and may even apply make application to increase it just a bit. This coverage should "replicate" WWNY's analog coverage:
None of us will really know if a signal can be received in a marginal area until we start broadcasting on that final assignment. We are making the move back to channel 7 and applying for the most coverage possible to make sure no one loses service from WWNY. We have generally found the coverage matches the coverage maps or in some areas exceeds it. Our best advice, now and after 2/17/2009, is to use an outdoor UHF/VHF antenna aimed at our transmitter site in Champion NY.

Friday, March 28, 2008


Over-the-air reception requires the use of an antenna. As is the case with analog reception, an outdoor antenna is also the best choice for DTV. If you are currently using an indoor set of "rabbit-ears", they may work just fine with DTV.

Currently WWNY-DT's DTV signal is broadcast on the UHF frequency of channel 35. In February 2009 when analog is turned off, WWNY will revert back to the VHF frequency of channel 7. Our plans are for WNYF FOX-28 to assume the channel 35 UHF frequency for it digital broadcasts in HDTV. (I have outlined this is previous posts.) The other Watertown broadcasters are and will continue to broadcast on UHF frequencies.

I mention all this because if you are investing in an antenna for DTV over-the-air reception I encourage you to get a combo VHF/UHF capable antenna. Plan for the day WWNY-DT broadcasts on VHF channel 7.

To assist you with antenna purchases you might visit http://www.antennaweb.org/. While not endorsing a particular brand, this site is also a very helpful http://ota.winegarddirect.com/.

New article on antenna reception.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Converter Box Info/ LPTV Info

As mentioned in a previous post, LPTV stations are not mandated to convert to digital. Viewers of LPTV stations (and viewers of border analog stations) may wish to explore converter boxes that pass-thru analog signals. For a list of coupon eligible boxes click here. The boxes that have the pass-thru feature have a special notation.

The other thing I have previously noted regarding WNYF FOX-28... its programming is available digitally via WWNY-DT, which has a multicast channel of WNYF FOX-28. This digital feed not only negates the need for the pass-thru feature, but for many will make the programming of WNYF FOX-28 available in areas not served by FOX-28's analog signal. That's because its piggybacked on the full-power DTV signal of WWNY, which has a greater range than WNYF's analog LPTV signal.

For more info on LPTV and the DTV transition click here.

For a Converter Box Coupon call 1-888-DTV2009 or http://www.dtv2009.gov/.

Friday, March 7, 2008


As I have previously reported WWNY has had some issues with our final DTV channel assignment. A process that did not allow us to amend our application to regain lost audience until just recently has frustrated us. We were then fearful that delays in receiving timely approval could impact our ability to meet the DTV 2009 deadline or serve our entire audience.

Yesterday the FCC positively acted on our Petition to Reconsider our assignment. We now must await International Coordination with Canada, but have been assured by the FCC that this will occur.

We have been working towards this approval for 4 years and thanks to support and assistance from the FCC staff and our Congressional leaders, Senator Clinton and Congressman McHugh, we appear to be set for 2009.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Low-powered Television Stations and the Transition

Low-powered television stations (LPTV) and translators are not mandated to shutoff analog broadcasts on February 17, 2009. Their analog signals may continue, with the FCC now exploring 2011 as a shutoff date for LPTV analog signals. I'm not sure if this was an over-sight by the FCC but it certainly complicates the viewers understanding of the transition. The message most often spoken is analog television is dead after 2/17/2009. Border markets, like ours, may also have access to analog signals from bordering Country’s. Canada hasn’t mandated an analog shutoff until 2011.

I bring this to your attention for two reasons. If you view WNYF FOX-28 from either of our analog channel 28 transmitters (WNYF-CA, Watertown or WNYF-LP, Massena), you can continue to view those signals after 2/17/09. We do have plans to begin digital broadcasts of WNYF-CA from its own transmitter in Watertown some time after 2/17/09. Its coverage area will be greater than the current analog coverage, and it will provide FOX programming in HDTV.

The second reason I note this is some of the DTV-to-analog converter boxes actually block analog signals. If you wish to continue to watch analog signals you’ll want to make sure you purchase a box that can pass analog signals. I am aware of three boxes that have that capability. Two from Philco and one from Echostar, which will be marketed under the companies Echostar and Slingbox brands. The other alternative is the installation of an A/B switch.

One final note about our situation…as I have noted in the past WWNY-DT broadcasts a digital multicast channel of WNYF FOX-28’s programming (channel 7.2). If you have no interest in watching analog broadcasts from Canada a standard DTV-to-analog converter box will provide you with a digital signal of WNYF from this multicast channel. Also, if you don’t currently live in an area served by one of our LPTV signals, a converter box will now provide that programming due to the multicast channel.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Misc. Ramblings on DTV/HDTV

It frustrates me that folks often only associate HDTV with DTV. HDTV is only one of 18 formats of DTV...it is the highest quality format...but it is not the only advantage of DTV. Oh, and by the way, HDTV is not mandated by the Federal Government only DTV is.

DTV offers ghost & snow-free reception, more channels (multicasting), and an electronic program guide. Interactive and data services are also being explored. That said, HDTV has the WOW factor. I've read studies that indicate homes with HDTV watch more TV, the TV's in those homes generally seek out HDTV programs before standard definition or analog programs, and those viewers crave more HDTV channels.

I'm a electronic gadget geek....my wife is not. There are only 2 devices I've seen her impressed with ... a Bose Wave table-top radio and HDTV. Like most guys I've always wanted a big screen TV...like most women she thought they took up too much room. (Our first HDTV set was only 26", but it's HDTV display still impresses her.) Like many women, her stance has changed now that flat-panel LCD or Plasma TV's are available and more affordable.

DTV does have a WOW factor too... One of the main purposes of this blog was to educate viewers on the analog cutoff and the need to prepare for it, especially if an over-the-air viewer. Recently I acquired a DTV to analog converter box...the kind which is eligible for the $40 coupon. This converter box's sole purpose is to extend the life of a viewers analog TV and it provides a relatively low-cost conversion to DTV. The WOW factor comes from the fact that in our cement & steel studio location I can receive 7 free channels of DTV from the 3 Watertown broadcasters...on a set of rabbit ears. Even channel 7's strong analog signal can't deliver a picture close to the quality of these DTV pictures. The box also provides an electronic program guide.

I've received a number of e-mail and calls asking why they should apply for a coupon to get a box now....can't they wait until 2009. First off there is a limited supply of coupons and they are being made available on a first come first serve basis. And...why wait...the advantages of DTV are available now. 2009 is the end of a transition, not the start of something new.

Nielsen: 13M Homes Not Ready for Digital TV

Thursday, January 10, 2008

DTV Converter Box Coupons, Now Available

In an effort to ensure that no television viewer loses service on 2/17/2009 Congress dedicated money for a converter box subsidy. As you may recall, analog sets can continue to serve viewers after the 2/17/2009 analog shutoff if connected to a DTV converter box. That box will receive the DTV signals and convert them to an analog form to be displayed on an analog television set.

Through the U.S. Commerce Department's NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Association) consumers who need a DTV converter box can apply for up to two $40 coupons that can used towards the purchase of up to 2 DTV Converter boxes...(one coupon per box, coupons are valid for 90 days.)

The boxes are expected to cost between $50-70 and will be available from most electronic retailers sometime in February.

Coupons can be applied for now...and in a sense they are on a first come first serve basis, so if you plan to continue to use your analog television after February 2009 apply soon.

To apply:

call 1-888-DTV2009