Digital switch leaves some antenna users in the dark

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By The Staff

Television. That magical "moving picture" box has provided entertainment and news to households for decades. It has also gone through changes over the years. Older viewers started out small, with only black-and-white screens. People can now purchase large flat-screen, high-definition color televisions, which give living rooms a movie-theater quality.

While those changes have improved the public's television experience, we're not quite so sure about the recent switch from analog to digital signals. The switch has been in the works for years to free up parts of the broadcast spectrum to be used for police and fire departments, emergency rescue, advanced wireless services and other services.

Residents who subscribe to cable or satellite services probably didn't even notice when television stations stopped transmitting analog signals June 12, but anyone who relies on an antenna did. Now, instead of receiving several stations, including WFIE 14, WEHT 25, WTVW 7 and CBS station 44, some residents only receive a portion of channels they had before.

According to a troubleshooting guide at www.fcc.gov/cgb/consumerfacts /troubleshootguide.html, the Federal Communications Commission says if there are problems seeing a picture after checking connections, performing a channel scan and adjusting the antenna, people might want to check with TV stations to see if they are operating at reduced power levels.

Also "when an analog TV signal is weak or receives interference, static, snow and distortion will often appear on the screen. Digital broadcasting will provide a clear picture; however, if the signal falls below a certain minimum strength, the picture can disappear. This ‘cliff effect' means that if you watch analog TV stations that have static and distortion, you may have to adjust or upgrade your antenna system."

But even after following these instructions, viewers are not guaranteed the same service as before the switch.

Phone calls made to general mangers at WFIE 14 and WEHT 25 to find out if they were operating on reduced power levels were not returned as of press time. These two stations were ones a Perry County resident said he got perfectly until the switch. Now he can't get anything.

As of right now residents who use antennas have a few options. Whether it's purchasing a newer updated antenna system or subscribing to a cable or satellite system, they will have to foot some type of bill in order to get back what they had before with perfectly good antennas.

We believe the government should have mandated that stations provide the same quality of service for anyone who was receiving signals over an antenna before and after the digital switch. This way the stations wouldn't lose viewers and residents wouldn't have to foot unnecessary bills.

The government should have done more to ensure comparable service after the switch. Is it really unreasonable for the public to want what they had before? We don't think so.

Our view: Editorials reflect the opinions of the newspaper.

Your view: Tell us what you think. E-mail us at editor@perrycountynews.com or mail your comments to P.O. Box 309, Tell City, IN 47586.