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 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

  • 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