[opendtv] Re: [opendtv]

  • From: Tom Barry <trbarry@xxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: opendtv@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 22 Dec 2008 19:05:28 -0500

Some years ago with my first HDTV and lousy indoor reception I found out that digital TV was supposedly designed for a target specification of a 30' high roof top rotor antenna. So I grudgingly set out to buy one.


I couldn't even find one locally in the Detroit area.

Eventually I mail ordered one off the net. I don't think most folks will have much luck if they try to run out to their local Home Depot or Radio Shack to get one on Feb 17. But that's okay since I don't think there is much demand for them anyway.

- Tom



Manfredi, Albert E wrote:
"Conspiracy theorists can point to statements like this one in October
from Michael Calabrese, a New America Foundation director and vigorous
'white space' advocate, '[A second phase of the DTV transition should]
take TV off-the-air in a few years... over-the-air broadcasts should be
replaced entirely by cable, satellite and Internet viewing.' Not so far
fetched, perhaps, if digital reception problems chase the majority of
viewers from free, over-the-air television."

One has to wonder.

"Set-top boxes are only part of the equation. 'It's the antenna!' as
consumer groups, the FCC, NAB, and other alphabet-soup groups are
finally acknowledging. Stations have begun airing 'Psst, bet you're
gonna need a new antenna too!' PSAs.

They have? Not in this neck of the woods.

How about, try an indoor antenna first. It's safe, comfortable even in
February, and will give at least some success until you can get
professional help, if you are technically challenged. And then tips on
which antennas work well.

"Only Radio Shack, among the national chains, normally sells outdoor
antennas."

???

How long has it been since he set foot in a Radio Shack store? You're
lucky to find, at best, a cheap indoor antenna. Radio Shack is nothing
like it used to be. Trinkets, toys, cables, batteries.

Bert

---------------------------------------
http://www.tvtechnology.com/article/71866

Viewpoint-Too Many Potholes on the Road to DTV
by Steve Krant, 12.22.2008

DALLAS DTV: gorgeous pictures, CD quality sound; a long overdue
successor to inefficient NTSC and digital Viagra for ageing receivers.
But those ones and zeros can be frustratingly fragile to capture
over-the-air without the right setup. We've all read "high altitude"
reports about analog cut-off tests, but not much from ground level where
the comprehension fog is thickest.

If my recent experiences are any indication, Feb. 18 will be an
"interesting" day around the White House. Rabbit-ear wielding mobs won't
storm the FCC, but don't underestimate the ire of aroused citizens
deprived of their free, over-the-air soaps, sports and talk shows. The
road to DTV has far too many potholes.

Despite all the print and on-air hoopla, a significant slice of
population remains oblivious. A mid-October Nielsen Media Research
report ranked my Dallas/Fort Worth backyard second among 10 least
prepared DTV markets, just behind Houston, and slightly ahead of Los
Angeles. Unsurprisingly, the least ready are lower income and households
with a less educated or blue collar head-of-house; groups unlikely to
troll-the-net for DTV tips. Not a good omen.

HELP AND REASSURANCE

Steve Krant

That point was driven home dramatically when I pulled a DTV Hotline
shift with the engineering team at WFAA-TV, Belo's ABC affiliate in
Dallas, for an early December analog shut-off test. We fielded calls
non-stop for nearly two hours-the envy of any PBS pledge drive-as
viewers, some concerned, some confused; some angry, some
techno-challenged and near-panic, reached out for help and reassurance.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV)-soon to be Commerce Committee chairman-in
his proposal for a 30-day analog extension for emergency and DTV
information noted that the nation isn't ready "without substantially
more involvement from every level of government [and] the entire
communications industry... when people are cut off from their
televisions, it is not just a matter of convenience; it is a matter of
public safety. This transition is going to hit our most vulnerable
citizens-the poor, the elderly, the disabled, and those with language
barriers-the hardest..."-the very same demos that swamped WFAA's lines,
and I'm sure those of other proactive stations around the country.

Even the Government Accountability Office listed "an effective
transition to DTV" among 13 urgent issues which "...if not dealt with
[by the new administration], could have great implications for life,
well being, or the confidence of citizens in government..."

As TV Technology readers, we're knowledgeable insiders; we "get" DTV.
And we have tech wizards smarter than ourselves to call on for help. But
what about average Joe-the-Whatever and Mini-Van Mom? I tried navigating
the DTV maze as an everyday suburban civilian. For the
broadband-connected and Web-savvy, there are numerous-perhaps too
many-resources available. A fortunate few will find a knowledgeable
retailer or Internet forum with the right answers and products for local
reception. The rest will have to fend for themselves.

More than 60 converter boxes are NTIA "coupon-eligible," but their
quality and functionality vary widely according to a mid-September
report by the NAB and Association for Maximum Service Television.

I sampled several among the limited retail choices and found mediocre
manuals, counter-intuitive remotes and confusing on-screen menus from
the mostly unknown manufacturers. Where are the "real" TV companies
hiding?

Set-top boxes are only part of the equation. "It's the antenna!" as
consumer groups, the FCC, NAB, and other alphabet-soup groups are
finally acknowledging. Stations have begun airing "Psst, bet you're
gonna need a new antenna too!" PSAs. Unfortunately, the national big-box
chain stores are less prepared to deal with antennas than set-top boxes,
if my neighborhood outlets are typical. Many salespersons, assuming you
can find one, try to be helpful but are untrained and clueless. "Does
this antenna get VHF and UHF channels?" Answer, "Huh?" "Fer sure," or
just a blank stare.

LACK OF INFORMATION

For the technically inclined, AntennaWeb.org gives precision advice
based on street address relative to local transmitter sites and provides
worst-case, often roof-top, antenna recommendations for best DTV
reception. Unfortunately, it's difficult to find a decent assortment in
stores or packaging that displays their antenna selection pie-chart.
Those on shelves are mostly indoor types, placed out-of-sight (sometimes
far from the converter boxes) and often lack printed specifications.
Only Radio Shack, among the national chains, normally sells outdoor
antennas. Curiously, the big warehouse clubs display dozens of HDTV
models, but not a rabbit-ear or yagi in sight (or online).

Compounding the chaos, stations in some markets will switch digital
channels and/or transmitter power post-transition. Here in Dallas, the
strongest, highly rated analog station has the weakest, most elusive
digital signal-the solo high-band V in a field of UHFs-despite
everyone's towers being situated on a hilltop surrounded by flat
terrain! Two other locals skip from UHF to VHF in February, though their
EPG-displayed numbers won't change. So much for rewarding the early
adopters; quick, call-up the help desk volunteers!

What's ahead? DTV is a serious challenge to already declining
over-the-air viewership. Many will surrender in frustration to cable or
satellite, others will lose favorite channels. OTA viewers will find
themselves gradually shut-out from sports and entertainment as popular
content migrates to pay-for-service carriers. The NAB has already cried
"foul" over free-TV's loss of some major league sports to higher-dollar
cable bids.

Conspiracy theorists can point to statements like this one in October
from Michael Calabrese, a New America Foundation director and vigorous
"white space" advocate, "[A second phase of the DTV transition should]
take TV off-the-air in a few years... over-the-air broadcasts should be
replaced entirely by cable, satellite and Internet viewing." Not so far
fetched, perhaps, if digital reception problems chase the majority of
viewers from free, over-the-air television.

Station owners are consolidating operations and morphing into
multi-platform "content providers," little different than CNN, HBO or
ESPN in competing for carriage and eyeballs on the common carrier
delivery systems. Should "broadcasters" stop relying on the public's
airwaves, will the FCC lose its public interest-based regulatory
mandate? Is radio next on the agenda? Food for thought. Happy Holidays!
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