DTV Transition Ruined Reception


I bought into the whole mantra of how cool this digital transition was going to be for my television-viewing pleasure.

However, now that it is well under way, I feel as though I have been tricked.

The promises of clear and crisp pictures have been lies.

Before, I could get approximately seven channels since I don’t have cable.

Now, I can barely only get five.

I realize that doesn’t sound that bad, but three of them are KPTS-PBS channels.

Don’t get me wrong, learning to crocheted or paint is all good and fun, but I want more variety.

Right now, on an exceptionally good day, I get the three Channel 8 stations, KWCH Channel 12, and Fox.

That’s it.

Come on. It’s bad enough I can’t afford cable. Don’t take away the rest of my channels now too.

For goodness sake, this isn’t a third-world country. I should be able to get at least the few local stations.

But no. The DTV switch ruined all that.

I like the picture when it comes, especially since my digital TV is also a high-definition unit, but I think I would rather go back to the days of fuzzy reception on all the channels than to have so few viewing options as I do now.

I’m not alone in this. Others are having issues with the DTV garbage as well.

March 9 on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” Howard Berkes did a piece covering this exact topic.

The NPR story centered on a small town called Bergton, Va., which has lost all television reception because the town wasn’t getting the signal straight from the broadcaster.

Instead, the signal had to bounce off of a translator antenna to reach the area. A translator antenna is “a device that boosts television signals from TV station transmitters to distant areas,” according to NPR.

Translator antenna upgrades were not part of the DTV federal mandate, so they can’t relay the digital signal.

NPR said the U.S. Commerce Department does provide some money for translator upgrades and conversions to digital. So far, more than 1,000 of more than 4,000 translator licensees have received grant monies, NPR reported.

Kent Parsons, vice president of the National Translator Association, is not happy with the situation regarding the state of translator antennas across the country.

“You must have money to buy equipment. Some of them just lacked technicians who were interested in progressing. Most of them said, ‘We’ll just wait,'” he said in the NPR story. “None of this has been addressed for these small rural communities by anybody. Not by Congress. Not by the FCC.”

Robert Ratcliffe, a top aide to the FCC’s acting chairman, confirmed as much in the NPR piece.

“We are a bit behind the curve when it comes to translators,” he said. “It definitely would have been better if the commission had been able to address this issue more comprehensively earlier in the process.”

This makes me wonder if this area is experiencing any similar troubles with a translator antenna.

Most likely that isn’t the case since I can get a few channels, but it still makes me wonder why I’m having such difficulties in receiving signals from various stations.

According to the NPR piece, the people in Bergton are most upset because the lone TV station was their only source of local news, weather and emergency information.

As a journalist myself, I must first say, “What about a newspaper? Most of that can be provided via a newspaper, except for maybe emergency and weather information if the paper in question doesn’t have a Web site.”

Even so, it does beg the question of whether TV is a right or privilege.

Bergton-area cattle farmer Donna Beale told NPR that not having TV “was like my arm had been cut off. I believe it’s one of our Constitutional rights to be able to have free communication and have access to the news, the weather and current local community events.”

I agree with Beale for the most part. Having access to news and information is a right, but such data can easily be found in a newspaper.

My gripe with not having TV is purely for entertainment. Do I watch TV news? Sure, but I don’t rely on it for my information and news. I have the Internet and newspapers to keep me informed.

I do feel for the plight the people of Bergton are in. I wish I had some sage advice to lend them, but if I did, I wouldn’t be having such an issue with not being able to watch more than painting shows.

Until the situation gets resolved, I guess I will just keep watch my “Scrubs” DVDs. J.D., Dr. Cox and the whole gang never get old.

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