Tuesday, September 15, 2009

WNYF-CA, Watertown Makes the DTV/HDTV Transition

WNYF-CA began DTV broadcasts yesterday. WNYF-CD's DTV coverage covers most of Jefferson County and a good portion of Lewis County. Its broadcasts are in HDTV, which of course provides greater resolution and a widescreen presentation. WNYF's programming on WWNY's subchannel 7.2, is standard definition. To enjoy the greater resolution broadcasts of WNYF you will need an HDTV with a digital tuner. Viewers will need to rescan for DTV channels to capture the new broadcasts of WNYF.

Don't hesitate to pass on successful reception stories ... this will help us gauge "real-world" coverage.

It is considered a low-powered station, but its coverage is much greater than its analog coverage. Within the next few weeks/days WNYF-CA's analog transmitter will be shut off.

WNYF-LP, Massena has an application before the FCC for DTV conversion. Once operational WNYF-LD's signal will cover much of St Lawrence County. Its FOX programming will be in standard definition DTV (hopefully in widescreen), and will have a sub-channel of WWNY's HDTV CBS programming.

Monday, June 15, 2009

6/12 DTV Deadline Has Passed, Have We/You Survived?

Well the extended DTV deadline of 6/12/09 has come and gone. Now all full-powered TV stations are broadcasting digitally. I note "full-powered" because LPTV stations, like WNYF-CA/WNYF-LP, or translators have no Federal mandate to convert...yet. WNYF-CA does have plans to digitize and hopes to be broadcasting by summers end in HDTV. We are exploring sites/frequencies etc for a Massena conversion as well.

WWTI in Watertown was the last full-powered station to cease analog broadcasts and I suspect the transition to all DTV broadcasts went without a hitch....lucky guys. WWTI did not change frequencies or any technical parameters like WWNY did in February.

We still take occasional calls from folks wondering if we are experiencing problems or if we are running low-powered and have any plans to upgrade the signal. Fact is WWNY is and has been broadcasting a strong VHF channel 7 signal since 2/17/09...nothing has changed and there are no plans to change. WWNY already applied for, was granted, and operates with a power increase over our original assignment from the FCC. We have witnessed our signal throughout the area ...as far as 100 miles from the transmitter. What we have learned is antennas are so so critical.

If you are still experiencing issues getting channel 7 please visit www.antennaweb.org or www.tvfool.com for guidance on antennas and their orientation towards the station.

FYI, Echostar has expressed some interest recently about building a facility to uplink local stations to satellite. Local stations on satellite might offer another option to viewers experiencing problems. Stay tuned, we'll let you know how that progresses. The Federal Law that allows satellite to carry local stations expires at the end of the year, and there may be changes to the law that forces satellite into offering local stations in all markets. We'll keep you up-to-date on these developments as well.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

It's All About Antennas

WWNY engineers have been traveling the North Country testing our digital signal. What we have found is the signal is great most everywhere....but...without a good reception antenna it can leave you with the impression that its weak or missing. In fact the new DTV signal is not only stronger, but travels a further distance than our previous one... further than even the predicted coverage maps indicate.

It's all about antennas. The best choice is always an outdoor antenna. It will capture a signal better because of fewer obstructions and it is less likely to receive reflected signals which can interfere with the performance of a TV set or converter box. We also have found that basic antennas seem to work the best. A good old aerial with metal rods are best, not the flying saucer or airplane wing shaped antennas that are often marketed as "HDTV Ready".

Indoor antennas may work in some locations, but are more subject to receiving reflected signals that confuse the sets/boxes. Good old rabbit ears without amplification and the long metal rods work the best.

For more info on antennas and their orientation towards the stations you might visit:
www.antennaweb.org or www.tvfool.com.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

DTV Reception Problems??

The most common DTV reception problem is folks did not rescan their digital televisions or converter-boxes. Rescanning was necessary to capture the changes we made to our signal. WWNY also learned that it is good practice to delete any reference to channel 7 before rescanning. Generally speaking both add/delete and scanning (auto-program, scan for channels etc) is found in the setup menu of the TV set or converter-box. For info on re-scanning click here or to watch a video click here.

The second most common problem is anntennas. Theoretically if you received our old (analog) signal well your antenna should work for DTV. WWNY has found that is not always the case...we suspect its because "well" is a subjective thing...in actuality if the signal was only OK the box or TV set may not "lock-up" and display the new DTV programming. An outdoor antenna is always the best choice. Most indoor antennas (esspecially those marked as DTV or HDTV) are better suited for reception close to stations and for stations who broadcast on a UHF frequency. WWNY now broadcasts digitally on a VHF frequency. Why our switch from a UHF frequency to VHF??? VHF signals are less affected by the terrain, weather and travel further distances...however the antenna has to be well suited for VHF reception to capitilize on these improvements. Orientation towards the station is also critical. After making any antenna adjustments you should rescan. For info on antennas and their orientation towards the station visit www.antennaweb.org.

Many folks have told us we got your "old" DTV signal and now do not receive your new & improved DTV signal...what gives? Its likely an antenna issue. Try reorientation, rescanning, and unfortunately you may be faced with an antenna upgrade.

We are tracking reception complaints and trying to determine if there are any problem areas. Please contact us if you have taken the above steps and still have issues. Our new DTV signal is full-power, in fact, we actually were permitted to boost the power over what was originally assign to us. It has an omni-direction pattern (as opposed to the old DTV directional pattern) and its antenna is mounted at the top of our tower (as opposed to the side-mount the old DTV signal had.) We have spent a considerable amount of money on equipment to best serve our vast geographic area...we are here to assist you so you can enjoy our programming. If you have issues you can contact us at 315-788-3800 or at wwny@wwnytv.net.

Monday, February 16, 2009

WWNY IS Transitioning 2/17, And Here's Why

WWNY has been given permission from the FCC to transition to all digital broadcasts on Tuesday 2/17.

So why did WWNY want to transition early...

Because we felt majority of our viewers are prepared...and many are having difficulty getting our current DTV signal. After the analog shutoff we can make changes to our signal that will more closely replicate the service area our analog signal had.

Any viewer that has received our analog signal well, should now be served with our DTV one...even the folks who could not receive DTV at all or those who were getting intermittent service. We felt there were more of the latter cases than totally unprepared viewers.

Yes there is an economic side for the station that you've probably heard about. The current DTV transmitter is an energy hog and running both the analog transmitter and DTV one carried an enormous, unbudgeted expense... In these challenging economic times where this station has already made painful adjustments, we'd prefer to spend our budgeted money on news & programming rather than having to cut in those areas to pay a utility bill.

The greater good...which serves the broadest audience (we are BROADcasters after all) is to improve the signal for the majority of viewers and continue to provide great programming and local news, public service and emergency information.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

WWNY to Transition to All Digital broadcasts 2/17/09

WWNY, like many other broadcasters nationwide (published reports indicate nearly half of all broadcasters), will be transition to all digital broadcasts on the original DTV deadline date of February 17, 2009 rather than the new deadline of June 12, 2009. WWNY believes a majority of our viewers are already prepared for all digital broadcasts.

Shutting the analog signal off early permits us to make technical changes to our DTV broadcasts which should improve its range and consistency. During our soft analog shutoff tests we received calls from a large number of folks who took measures to receive digital broadcasts but were having difficulty receiving our current DTV signal. These changes should address these issues.

Viewers who are currently receiving our DTV broadcasts will need to re-scan their television or converter boxes on 2/18/09 to capture these changes. For info a re-scanning click here or to watch a video click here.

WWNY will be joined on February 17, 2009 by WWTI our ABC competitor. WPBS, the Watertown public broadcasting station will cease analog broadcasts in March.

WNYF-CA, Watertown and WNYF-LP, Massena, our low-powered FOX affiliate will continue analog broadcasts. The programming of WNYF is also available via a secondary channel (7.2) of WWNY’s digital broadcasts.

Low-powered stations do not have a mandate to cease analog broadcasts, nor a mandate when they must be all digital. WNYF-CA holds a construction permit to construct a digital facility of its own. When those broadcasts begin (we anticipate in a few months), the programming will be available in HDTV.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Looks Like 6/12/2009 is the date!

Yesterday the House passed its version of the DTV Delay bill, moving the analog cutoff deadline to June 12, 2009. This action mirrors the action the Senate took last week...an action encouraged and endorsed by President Obama. His signature into law is essentially a formality.

Availability of a coupons towards converter boxes as well as a general feeling that the public is unprepared is the reasoning for the delay. In our market it does give folks who may need to address antenna issues more time, and perhaps better weather, to install or adjust rooftop antennas.

One provision of the new law is the ability for a station to sign analog off earlier than June. Stations in several markets have indicated they will proceed with the February shutoff since they feel their markets are prepared and they wish not to spend un-budgeted dollars towards the high utility bills experienced with running two transmitters. Emergency responders waiting for freed up radio spectrum will be permitted to obtain and use frequencies given up by those broadcasters.

In this blog I have indicated WWNY will be making some technical changes to our digital broadcasts after the analog shutoff. These changes which should improve our broadcast range are now on-hold since the analog shutoff has changed. Even if WWNY and others in our market were to shutoff analog early, we may not immediately be permitted to make those technical changes... So like so many other times I say...please stand-by....more info to come.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

DTV Deadline Delayed? Probably!

Yesterday the Senate passed a bill to delay the DTV deadline to June 12. The House is expected to follow today or tomorrow. President Obama called for the delay saying the public is not ready, more time was needed for folks to prepare and Congress needed to free up funding for the coupon program.

Nielsen Media Research says 5.7 percent of all U.S. homes are still completely unready for the digital TV transition. That represents 6.5 million households. It hard to believe after the broadcast industries intense Public Service campaign, that so many folks are still unprepared, but I guess its human nature to procrastinate.

One provision of the Senate bill is a clause that says broadcasters can switch to all digital broadcasts prior to the deadline in June. This is good news for stations who had not budgeted for the extremely high utility costs associated with broadcasting both a DTV and analog signal, or for stations that had technical crews already scheduled for tower work, and for the emergency responders who would benefit from freed-up spectrum. A delay, however, benefits the viewer who might be faced with an antenna upgrade. Now they will not have to battle the winter elements installing a new outdoor antenna.

Just when WWNY and other Watertown broadcasters make the switch is unknown. We hope to work with the other broadcasters to determine an appropriate date. In the meantime we continue to encourage viewers to buy DTV equipment and try to recieve our broadcasts. Benefit from the better pictures and sound, and additional channels of broadcasting.

Finally, please remember to re-scan for DTV channels to capture any changes to the broadcasts, after power outages, after antenna adjustments and esspecially after stations like WWNY shutoff analog.