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‘Double-rescanning’ may help digital TV reception

11:57 AM Tue, Jun 16, 2009 |
Posted by: Walt Zwirko
 E-mail

It’s now been four days since WFAA switched off its analog signal forever as part of the nation’s conversion to an all-digital television system.

I’ve been hearing from a handful of frustrated viewers who — despite their best efforts — haven’t been able to tune in favorite stations (including WFAA) since Friday’s changes.

The FCC today issued a Consumer Alert to viewers who are having reception problems, and they outlined a technique called “double-rescanning” that could help in some cases.

Last week, we pointed out that WFAA and two other TV stations in the Dallas-Fort Worth market were changing channels as part of the digital conversion. For digital TV sets and converter boxes to recognize the changes, it was necessary to employ the “rescanning” function of the receiver.

But if you continue to have problems, the FCC suggests that you utilize a more robust technique to make sure your digital receiver isn’t confused by all the changes. Here is a step-by-step guide to double-rescanning:

1. Disconnect the antenna from the converter box or digital TV

2. Re-scan the box or digital TV without the antenna connected (as with any scan, follow the on-screen instructions or owner’s manual for your device)

3. Unplug the box or digital TV from the electrical outlet for at least one minute

4. Reconnect the antenna to the box or digital TV and plug the unit into the electrical outlet.

5. Rescan the box or digital TV one more time.

The FCC suggests that this procedure can clear your converter box or digital TV of potentially incorrect data that could keep you from tuning in all available stations.

In Tuesday’s Consumer Alert, the FCC also said that some reception problems can be resolved by double-checking and relocating the antenna.

You’ll need a VHF/UHF antenna to get all the station available in North Texas. “Some antennas marketed as HDTV antennas don’t perform well on VHF channels,” the alert said. For best reception of the three VHF digital stations in this area, the FCC recommends using a “rabbit ear”-style antenna with the rods extended 12 to 18 inches.

The FCC says indoor antennas should also be located:

• near a window

• as high in the room as possible

• away from other electronic gear, including computers, VCRs, DVD players, converter boxes, and the television itself

An attic-mounted or outdoor antenna will generally provide superior reception, the FCC said.

I hope this will help some of you who have had a problem with digital reception. If viewing Channel 8 continues to elude you, we want to know about it! Please e-mail me — being as specific as possible about your antenna, your receiver and where you live — and I’ll try to help.

The FCC is also maintaining its hotline number for consumers, 888-CALL-FCC, which has fielded more than 900,000 calls in the past week. “We are committed to staying on the job to help,” said acting FCC Chairman Michael Copps.

E-mail askwalt@wfaa.com



35 Comments

Question for you Walt, prior to the switch my HDTV with rabbit ears would only get channel 8 after it had warmed up for 10 minutes or so but would get all the other HD’s.

Now that the switch has occurred channel 8 starts immediately but channel 11 has that problem–all the others work fine.

I know you don’t have much interest in helping 11, but any ideas why that would happen?

Also, are the rabbit ears still needed with HD or does it use the round UHF antenna?

I for one, am a little disappointed with the reception of most of my stations. There are several stations I could receive on analog but now my reception is poor, with the audio and video freezing up every few seconds. I think I’d prefer a little static than this.

But the worst part is when a thunderstorm moves through. With analog, I could watch the news to see how the storm was progressing, with bits of static being caused by the lightening. But now with digital, it is useless. The picture just freezes on every channel and I can’t even HEAR what the weatherman is saying. My best bet for information is to logon to the internet and look at the radar there.

Bob, last Friday KTVT CBS 11 joined WFAA in broadcasting its digital signal on a VHF channel (it moved from UHF 19 to VHF 11). KFWD Channel 52 also moved; it’s now using the Channel 9 space vacated by WFAA when it shifted digital transmissions to Channel 8.

It means that viewers who had previously had no problem with KTVT before Friday may now have reception issues — especially if you rely on an indoor antenna.

In the article above, I’ve outlined the best suggestions for indoor antenna users. If that doesn’t do the trick, investigate the purchase of an amplified antenna (one that is powered by a wall plug) that could provide enough extra oomph to pick up a hard-to-get station.

The fact remains that VHF digital channels (like WFAA, KTVT and KFWD) may require more effort to receive in some locations that formerly had adequate reception on the same analog channels because VHF digital signals don’t penetrate buildings as well as their UHF counterparts.

David, the symptoms you describe indicate that the signal levels at your location are marginal at best.

Digital is unlike analog in that reception is perfect above a certain signal level, but there is what’s called a “cliff effect” involved — if your signal falls below that acceptable level, you get either nothing or a blocky, unwatchable picture.

Like other electromagnetic waves, digital TV reception can be affected by anything that gets in the way of the signal — including rain. That’s why the goal is to receive a strong enough signal that has enough headroom to be unaffected by such variables.

I know some viewers will gripe about the potential need to upgrade an antenna for improved digital reception, but unlike cable or satellite, it’s a one-time investment that opens the door to a growing array of free digital services.

The truth of th ematter is that most of the digital converter boxes are flat out BAD. The reviews of them are less than stellar, and nobody REALLY knows what is going on. It’s quite funny. I have cable, and the signal for the local stations is absolutely terrible. It is worse now than it was in analog world.


NBC- reception is apalling with interference patterns throughout the video.

Fox- OK

ABC- OK

CBS- Not great.

At least the ghost reception is gone, but the interferense on 4-5 of th elocal stations is pathetic, and I thought it was supposed to be digital? Cable company provides an awful signal then if that is the case, but why would I expect any different from TW “stick it to me” Cable.

Walt,
I am having the same problems Bob and David, you mentioned a certain type of antenna. Where can you get these and are they expensive. I am a single mother and on a very tight budget, any idea’s. Thanks for your help.

Appreciate the detailed info and I will try double rescanning.

Question: Should there be a difference in reception of Channel 8 and 11 based on time of day. In the mornings, we are getting good reception of Ch 9 and 11. In the afternoon and evening the reception is useless.

I am using an indoor antenna that is amplified. If double rescanning does not work, is an outdoor antenna my next move? And specific recommendations on antenna type, brand, etc?

Many thanks.

Larry

This really is turning into a mess.. I think the whole switch was a HUGE mistake for many of the reasons Walt has already laid out. It’s *highly* important for people to be able to get emergency weather information and this technology (as strange as it may sound) is worse than analog when it comes to this. Digital TV can simply not function at all in storms where at least with analog, the picture and sound continue with static.

Welp, I sure hope the overlords that have plans for those analog channels make great use of them as of yet I don’t see why civilians are being turned off of analog completely nor can I see anything coming that proves as valuable as good old analog.

Am I the only person who lives out in the country that bought a converter box and bought a new outside antenna (not HDTV) just to make sure all my connections were good only to find out when the switch was made that I am no longer in the range of any broadcast stations? I called the FCC hotline and was nicely told that it looks like I am not where I can receive a signal at all. All the info said – converter box and if you receive analog, you will get digital. Well I don’t and I guess if I want tv I will have to get satellite. Why issue converter box coupons to people you know won’t be serviced anyway? And why was this a good idea??

We live about 3 miles from the Cedar Hill towers, and our antenna strength is only running around 50–55%. You’d think that we, of all people, would get stellar reception! Instead, we often get channels dropping out and hesitating. We’re going to have to install an attic or roof antenna, I’m afraid.

Sure, we get stations that we didn’t get before, but frankly, they’re pretty much showing programs that none of us are interested in. I’d definitely switch back to analog if it were available.

But, remember, this switch was for YOUR convenience!

I would like to know if stations have taken advantage of the change to digital to use low power transmissions. If that is so, I suggest that stations increase their power so that we can receive them.

I did the rescan and still can not get channel 8
I get 2.1 4.1 5.1 5.2 5.3 then jumps to 21.1 and a doezen mexican channels. I bought a Phillips Amplified antenna Indoor for HDTV/UHF/VHF for $30
Goes to show the government and their bright ideas still do not work. Can I get some STIMULOUS money to buy an outdoor antenna ???

Just want to find the channel on my TV. Bought new antenna and still can’t get 8 or 11. What’s the problem. There must be thousand of senior citizens out there that don’t have a clue how to fixd any of this. At least try to help them!!!!!!!!

I performed a double rescan and I am still unable to pickup CH 8. I have a 3 month old LG LCD HDTV and I pick up all other channels in full HD.

Several people are having the same issue. WFAA, if you want people to enjoy your programming then you need to give us a better fix.

i have an antenna connected to a directv box. Prior to the change I received 8-1 8-2 and 8-3 after the change i get no signal at all. directv boxes do not have a scan mode they get their mapping from the guide. i receive all digital channels apart from the 8’s. i live in carrollton. You definitely need to change to uhf the vhf signal is useless.

Having done all the “right things” to assure that we could receive local channels after the switch to digital (buying a digital TV, getting a new stronger antenna mounted at the top of the wall next to the window, scanning, re-scanning, scanning ad nauseum) we still do not receive channel 8 or 11. I think we’ll give up on TV and return to reading books! Oh, and we bought the new portable digital TV specifically so we could take it with us on picnics, and use it during storms when our satellite service is interupted. But we spend all our time on the picnic scanning and trying to adjust the antenna. Plus, the TV did not work at all during the recent storms!

Remind me why this conversion is good for the TV-watching public…..

Just recently, our two new Panasonic (one Plasma / one LCD) TVs have began picking up TWO versions of the same Hi-Def channel (for channels 21 and 52). One shows up with a good picture, the second version shows a blank screen and the message, “No Signal”. I tried deleting (de-selecting) the second version of each channel, but neither set will de-select the second version, unless the first version is also de-selected (then, you get no channel showing up in the channel surf for 21 or 52). Sure, you can simply hit the channel button a second time, during channel surfing, to bypass the second version of 21 and 52, but what the heck is going on? A Panasonic rep had never heard of this.

Well, we put up a roof antenna. When dh was adjusting it, we got it to a steady 72%. I just switched over to Channel 8, and the picture is still stopping and freezing. I checked the signal strength, and it’s currently in the low 50’s. We live 3 miles from the Cedar Hill towers, for pete’s sake! At least with the rabbit ears I could play around with it a little. Now we’re just out of luck if it’s freezing.

We bought converter boxes and antennae prior to the date of the first designated switch, probably in Novemeber 2008, so we are past the return dates. We have scanned, rescanned, had a friend come in and try to fix it up, but still get bad reception on one tv, complete scrambled reception on the other, and no WFAA on either. I’m glad we are on summer reruns or would have had a riot on our hands if we had missed LOST and Ugly Betty episodes. Will there be fixes soon since we are obviously not the only ones that this hasn’t worked for.

Just want to say, it’s not just Texas! I live in rural Oregon, had fine analog reception for all basic stations “before”. Got new antenna, converter boxes, digital tv – now our basic channels are hit and miss. Sometimes there, sometimes not. Big mess. Wish we could go back – at least we had tv, if not perfect picture!

Walt,

I live in the Candleridge section of south Fort Worth, and I will tell you that I get all of the channels, albeit in a spotty fashion. I am actually using a Hauppage WinHVR-950Q USB tuner stick connected to my laptop, along with a simple pair of rabbit ears with a UHF loop. Most times, on a signal strength meter where 35 is the “top” of the scale, I typically get all of the channels with a signal strength of 27. However, this still causes somewhat choppy picture and sound. I also have AT&T; U-Verse, and (assuming they have been using the digital signal for a while) I have no problems. But my question is, when will (or can) the network affiliates increase their signal power? And when the “nightlight” service goes off at the end of the month, KDFW/Channel 4 and KXAS/Channel 5 will both be switching to the VHF band, and from what I’ve read the lower channel numbers are even harder to receive unless you’ve got a big (6-foot plus) antenna.

But I forget – this switch was for the viewer’s benefit.

since the change over to digital I can not get ch 7 at all. I have double scanned my DTV box many times, but NO go.
COME ON CH 7 GIVE US SOME POWER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

What a joke! We have had this box for months and it never has worked right. In fact we have two and most channels either do not come in at all or freeze. Another stupid idea by the FCC and Govt.

Houston, Texas. Part of the day the reception is decent, not good. At night, blotchy, static, sometimes no sound other than noise.

You know how frustrating the You Tube sticking problem is ? Well, this is worse. The buffering of digital makes You Tube’s sticking problem seem more tolerable every day.

And to say unplug this, turn off that, reprogram this, plug in, turn on, scan – OMG. That reminds me of You Tube saying uninstall Adobe, then reinstall Adobe, and all better – NOT !

It seems to be blotchy and without sound when the meaty part of the news story is on, or a controversial guest is on a talk show.

Maybe the conspiracy theorists were right.

And the worst – coastal regions depend on portable battery operated sets in hurricanes. Well, no more. We are left in the dark.

More of our tax dollars being thefted while communications are being damaged.

We were told, in the beginning: get a convertor box and that’s it! — you’re set. Much later they introduced the fact that you needed the right antenna.
I have both, and am very disgruntled with the results.
The major media, TV and print, are disinterested in pursuing this problem. The only exception I have come across is a story on NPR, which revealed some interesting reasons why receptions is non-existent or spotty.
I called all the local Radio Shacks and was repeatedly told that they have received many complaints from customers.
Who are the ones making money (lots of it) off this conversion? Digital television, convertor box and antenna manufacturers; and, of course, cable and satellite companies.
The elderly, especially those in rural areas, are the hardest hit. But who cares about them?

Well, I have done the double scanning – more than once. I have two different analog TVs with converters, a good quality attic antenna and two different style & brand digital antennas.

Guess what – I get every station without a problem on at least one of the TVs, most of them on both. But WFAA is history. There is not even a trace of a signal for you guys. Strange that I got perfect analog signals from the Cedar Hill towers before this wonderful upgrade.

1) With digital and having tried about six different antennas…in all sorts of positions….still pixilating and stalling (some antennas better, some worse)…but still No Change from BAD SOUND. The volume is up to the top using the converter box’s remote control, but when turning it up on the TV’s remote, the buzzing is unbearable at anything above Low Volume.

2) Where to find if one’s TV is simply incompatible with the digital stuff? Is there a year of TV models before which the digital technicalities won’t work?

3) Our TV STILL needs a warm-up period—up to a half hour—before things come in ok. Same syndrome now with digital. Does this spell doom for that TV?

Why did you guys stay on the VHF band? It seems that no one is able to receive your signal. Most of the UHF channels are fine but nothing from Ch 8, Ch 11, or Ch 52 since the June 12th switch. You guys need to at least simulcast your signal on a UHF channel for those of us that can’t get your VHF signal. Maybe I will just get a library card and forget about TV.

I have had the same problems with both Ch 8 and 11 as many describe here. I am in the Denton area using an attic antenna and get most other available channels. I was getting 11 on 21.2, but now that they upgraded yesterday, 8/4, I get them on their home station of 11. Will WFAA be doing a similer upgrade since you seem to be the one everyone is having trouble with now? Or in the interim as was suggested, simulcast on a UHF band?

We live in the Sherman, Texas area.
We can’t get cable in our area. We had dish network but in an effort to reduce spending we canceled it and bought an antenna. Right it’s 20 ft. high.
We only get KXII and KTEN, we can’t get ABC. I am pretty sure ABC is Dallas is our only hope of getting that.
We would LOVE to pick up KFWD amd WFAA. We just bought a 40 ft. antenna tower which we’ll put up soon. We are hoping that will help. We are also going to put on an antenna rotator and an amplifier. Does anyone know if these things will help us get one or both of those channels?
Please email me if you have any information. Thanks!
texaslonghorns1950@yahoo.com

I finally got my analog TV and old but very good RCA VCR/recorder all set up for the digital switch. All with great reception AND timed recording. I will start at the antenna
and work back to the TV. I’m 60+ miles from the broadcast tower so I have an outside VHF/UHF antenna with a mast-mounted signal amplifier. The antenna RF cable goes to a 2 way splitter and the 2 RF outputs from that, go to two different converter boxes. One C. box is a Zenith DTT901 and this is the one I use for watching my only TV, and have been since Dec. 2009. The second C. box is a Zinwell ZAT-970A and this is connected to my VCR via composite to “video in”. I have been checking the net every month since last year looking for a source for a DVR that was a converter with a programmable recorder. The DTV PAL DVR (TR-50?) started out looking very good, but then seemed to stagnate. Then, by luck, I stumbled on the Zinwell which has a channel switching timer (up to 8 different times/channels). This is what you program like you did your VCR the only difference is, after the first setting it remains on that channel until the time you want to record a different channel. At that time (the time you set), it switches to the second channel you selected etc. Now all you have to do is program your VCR to record during the time(s) you want to record. You don’t use a channel settings on the VCR, you’re using the “video in” input, bypassing the tuner. The Zinwell will have the correct channel tuned in when your VCR starts to record at your selected different times. If you have more than one composite “video in” on your TV or an extra TV you can dedicate to your VCR, you’re ready to watch different channels while recording others on the VCR. I have one TV with only one composite “video in” so I had to add one more piece to the system, a 4-to-1 video switch with remote, a StarTech SVID4101R that has both composite and S-Video. I used #1. composite input for the DTT901, #2. for the VCR “line out”, and #3. for a second VCR “line out” (for watching recorded tape) in case there is nothing good on TV and I’m recording. The output of the switch goes to the “video in” on the TV.
Position #2 on the switch allows me to program both the VCR and the Zinwell and once
that’s done I can switch to #1 or #3 and watch their inputs while the VCR records what and when I want it to.
Digital is highly directional. That means if the stations you want to receive are at different locations, you will need a rotor. Your antenna must aimed “right on” the tower. Some stations, like you, are having difficulties with this change to digital (although they won’t tell you).
Patience and perseverance is needed….don’t be paying $$$$ for cable/satellite/dish.

I am so tired of not getting channel 7, it is the only channel I watch.

I have spent $90 on an antenna, bought a converter box, I got better reception with my
converter box before you flipped the switch.

Can’t Channel 7 fix the problem.

This is the pitts.

Cant someone help us out.

I want my channelk 7 back

Wednesday, October 21, 2009–8:00 pm CST

To Whom it May Concern:

I have a Converter box at work. But i’m having trouble rescanning my channels. Where I work, I have my own little office, without windows, but I keep my door open all day. I also dropped my Converter box on the floor. I put the box on Auto Program but I still get “No Signal”.
How can I get a signal?

Sincerely,

Terry

A question for Walt:

Have had a successfully operating convertor box/analog tv hookup until a few days ago. The problem is only with Channel 8. I am receiving good vidio for channel 8-1 (abc) and 8-2 channel 8 weather channel. The problem is the audio for 8-1 is the audio from 8-2 (weather) which is also still correctly received on 8-2. I have re-scanned the remote (analog & digital) to no avial.

Any suggestions ?

Thanks

Tom

Dear KFAA management,

Your station’s programming in no longer available to me because of your poor signal strength. Please increase it back to the pre-digital cut-over levels to allow me to once more see your broadcasts. I have excellent signal strength and picture for all the other stations that I received prior to the cutover. Yours is the sole exception.

Yours truly,
Kim Chapin


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