DTV Q&A with Tom Young, March 2008

QUESTION: We have an HD television and are with Dish Network. I have purchased their HD programing. When I view ESPN HD programing I get the HD quality picture. However, when ABC broadcasts, say a football game, and they state it is being broadcast in ABC HD I do not get the HD quality picture. The same applies to all the local Toledo stations.

Are the local Toledo stations able to broadcast the HD picture quality ? Are there government restrictions against the HD programing on the local toledo channels ? Thank you.

ANSWER: Hello, According to their web site we are on ch 7820 over the Dish network. I know that the Toledo stations are not on Direct TV at all.

We really have no control over the quality of the product provided by either provider, and it must be remembered that they have to pack hundreds of stations in a fairly small amount of spectrum. One way of doing this is to reduce the quality of each signal, by compressing it into a small piece of the available spectrum.

I can tell you that the Toledo stations are all available over the air with a simple antenna at full quality. You might pursue the issue with the Dish network or simple use an off the air antenna for the local programming. A bit of help is available in an old article I wrote for 13abc.com, which I have archived at: http://toledohdtv.com/html/antennas.html .

Please feel free to contact me if you require further help. The station phone number is 419-531-1313.

Regards,
Tom Young

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QUESTION: One year ago I purchased a HDTV LCD unit. I have a very good TV antenna that was professionally installed 6 years ago, and it picks up most local stations from Toledo and Detroit. I have the Dish Network system which provides most of the common cable stations; however I do not pay for the HD service from the Dish. I also have two non-HD TV's in the house, and everything is connected via coax cable.

I understand that if I want cable-style high definition TV then I need to pay for that service. The purpose for writing this is I want to understand what I need to do to be ready for the new high definition change-over, I think, schedule for February 2009.

I have some knowledge having the ability to repair simple electronics, appliances, run my own computer repair business for 8 years, and hooked up cable systems. So I am an all around geek. I will have many people counting on me to help offer advice next year when this new HD world arrives.

However, I am not sure I even understand what the new HD standard means for consumers. My plan this year is to research what kind of equipment is necessary to make a home ready to receive HD signals. If you can point me to the right person to have a few email conversations I would appreciate the help. Thank you.

Regards,
Brad Butler
Adrian, Michigan

ANSWER: Hello, The type of antenna an individual will need after the transition depends on their location and to a degree the kind of house and property they reside in. I wrote an anticle about antennas a couple of years ago for 13abc.com, and although it is no longer available there I have archived it at http://www.toledohdtv.com/html/antennas.html ,

A couple of things to keep in mind. . . after the transition many stations will change the digital channel they are presently on and there will be completely different sets of variables. For example 13abc transmits our digital signal on ch 19 right now, but we plan to use ch 13 where our analog signal now resides after the 2009transition. Channel 11 will also return to their analog channel. In Detroit ch WXYZ remains on their digital assignment ch 41, but Channel 2 will take their digital assignment and move it to Channel 7! Frankly, I think there will be a lot of confusion, and there may have to be some changes in assignments when it is discovered that things don't work as planned.

In answer to your question. . . an antenna should cover channels 5-51 (those above 51 are going away as are channels 2, 3, and 4). In the local area the only station below the high VHF band (ch 7-13) is WLMB. In short, with the exception of that channel the ideal antenna would pick up the high VHF and the UHF band. There is no such thing as an HDTV antenna, as they are often advertised. In fact, these antennas often only cover the UHF band and are sold by people who don't understand the way the transition is planned to work. In my experience antenna amplifiers that worked well with analog TV often add noise which degrades the digital signal, and may often cause problems, unless they are of very high quality. If receiving the Detroit channels is planned, a 50 or more foot tower is needed and a rotor is also needed as well as a quality antenna. Personally I use a Channel Master 4228 for UHF and a High band Yagi for VHF. They are combined at the bottom with a combiner that is designed for that purpose. . a simple splitter will not work.

I hope this helps.
Tom Young

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QUESTION: Hi Tom, I noticed today while watching the news sidebars were added. Cool. My question is; several larger cities including Detroit, Cleveland, and Columbus have a few stations that broadcast their news in HD is 13 abc going to in the near future broadcast their news in HD? I'm sure the camera upgrade is costly. Just wondering and I also think that it would add viewers as many people now have HD television sets.

ANSWER: Tom, I can't give you a date when Channel 13 will broadcast our news in HD. Eventually all the stations will do so, but for now we are concentrating our efforts on providing the best HD signal we can. Your comments about the sidebars are most welcome. We are certainly interested in opinions about how the public feel about things like this. You mention camera upgrades, but consumer camcorders can be purchased at the big box stores for a very reasonable price. A television station has to replace virtually all the studio equipment in addition to the studio and field cameras, and you are right about that being a costly thing to do. For several years the stations have considered HD capabilities when a piece of equipment is replaced. It is one of those things that evolve over a fairly long period of time.

Thanks for writing
Tom Young

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QUESTION: I am in the process of preparing for the HD TV changes. I would like to know if you are going to continue to use channel 19 for HD transmissions, or will all transmissions be on channel 13 after analog TV is eliminated. Is there only going to be one channel or more like channels like you have at the present time? Which by the way I appreciate tremendously. Why isn't more technical information like this and station antenna location or transmitter power found on the website? Some people are actually interested and capable of understanding and using this sort of information.

Thank you for your time
Jay Babione

ANSWER: Jay,
At the present time we intend to return to channel 13 after the analog shutdown (channel 11 intends to return to channel 11 also). The only way this will matter is if you are using an off the air antenna. Many of the sellers are offering "HDTV" antennas that are really UHF only. In fact the channels from 5 thru 51 will be used and a UHF only antenna would only work on the UHF channels. I have written web articles on this subject in the past, and although they are no longer on our company web site I have posted all of them on a personal site at www.toledoHDTV.com and you are welcome to look over this information. I will be updating this information in future articles on 13abc.com in the near future. Feel free to call me at the station at 419-531-1313 if you have any unanswered questions.
Tom Young

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QUESTION: Dear Tom, Can you tell me if I purchase an HDTV with a QAM tumer, will I be able to receive HDTV as well as the digital signals through my Time Warner Cable service without an additonal cable box. I'm aware of the limitation of not being able to receive the "extras" such as hbo, showtime, pay per view, etc. but, that is of no concern as I do not wish to receive those services. Thank you for any light you can shed on this question.

Karen

ANSWER: Dear Karen,
Time Warner Cable has been a bit inconsistent about the carriage of local HD signals. It depends upon where you live. They carry our HD signal as well as that of several other local HD stations in many of the cities they serve, but not all. For example, my parents live in Fostoria and they do not carry channel 13 there in the clear. In fact, the only stations that are in the clear are 27 and (boo) 11. In other markets we are available in the clear (without a converter). I am not sure if they carry any of the minor channels (such as 13-2 or 13-3) in any of the towns, since the Fostoria system is the only one I get to monitor. I feel fortunate to have Buckeye Cable here in Toledo, since they carry all the Toledo HD stations in the clear and also carry the minor channels of all the Toledo stations. I suggest you call Time Warner and ask about your town or city. Feel free to complain if they don't carry us in the clear. Tom Young

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QUESTION: The vouchers which the government is going to distribute for 30$-40$ discounts on converters, will this help me in my quest for a digital signal on my HDTV Monitor? Or are those strictly for SDTV's? Some other info that I didn't include in my first email: We recently bought a Vizio 47" Full HD TV. We have Time/Warner cable service (basic). Through my standard coax cable I can receive WTVG on channels 13 (normal picture) and 13-1 (beautiful digital picture) Also, for example WTOL on ch.11 and 11-1. My particular cable service also provides me an ABC channel out of Cleveland (WEWS 5), WBNS 10 from Columbus, and WLIO 35(NBC) out of Lima. However, there are no alternative digital signals for these channels on my new TV (ie 5-1, 10-1, or 35-1). Is it because we live too far away or is it my cable company choosing not to transmit the signal? ( Lima is alot closer to me than Toledo is yet I don't receive a digital signal from ch. 35) Does it really matter how far I am away from a broadcast city since I have cable? I can see how it would affect me if I was using an external aerial antenna outside.

Thanks for your quick response,
Andrew Kunst

ANSWER: Andrew, The vouchers the government is passing out are for converters that are intended to convert digital signals for use on a standard definition set. I don't really know if they can be used for an upgraded converter that can be used on a HDTV monitor, but I doubt it. You would probably have to just buy a tuner outright such as one from the source I sent the link for. As for Time Warner, I have found a lot of inconsistencies in the way they distribute local channels. It seems to be different in every area, and they don't seem to be inclined to carry the minor channels in the digital signal unless they are required to by agreement with the individual station. My suggestion is to let them know what you want. If enough customers say they want the minor channels they might be inclined to offer them. Tom

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QUESTION: I have an approximately a 2003 or 2004 Philips 50" Rear Projection HDTV Monitor. Is it capable of receiving digital signals if I get an ATSC tuner put into it? It is strictly hooked up to cable right now. I know I'll get a signal after Feb. '09 but it won't look like HD. What exactly is an HDTV Monitor? With the right equipment can I get an HD picture?

Thanks in advance,
Andrew Kunst

ANSWER: Andrew, It was common in those years to produce monitors without tuners. Almost all HDTV's sold today have tuners capable of receiving off the air as well as cable and analog signals (they are all different).

It is doubtful that you will be able to find a tuner that fits inside the set, but it should be possible to purchase an external tuner, which would have the appearance of a cable box that receives off the air signals. We have several such devices in service here at the studio, but I should warn you that they are not in great demand, and therefore might be hard to find. Also, you have to be careful here, because digital converter boxes are just hitting the shelves at the big box stores, but they are intended to convert the digital signal for use on an older standard definition TV and would not be of help to you. You don't want one of these (at least not for the Philips HDTV monitor you mentioned. I can't say what is available locally, but you should make it quite clear to the salesman that you want a tuner for use on an HDTV monitor rather than a standard definition set. You might find what you are looking for on the internet. I did a brief search and you might start here: http://www.newegg.com/Store/SubCategory.aspx?SubCategory=498&name=Set-Top-Boxes .

Like I said however, be sure the tuner provides a composite signal that will go into the set, as the cable box did. There are several on this page. Also, you will need a set of composite video cables and a set of audio cables also available from this site or any of the local big box stores. I suggest consulting your original instruction manual to determine how to make these connections. Another word of warning: you live a fair distance from Toledo or Columbus and will probably need a good antenna system, especially after the analog shutdown a year from now. Even if you receive the stations well today the signal strength and channel numbers of many stations will change and it is going to be a whole new ball game receiving a distant signal. Unfortunately, there has been little or no testing to say what will or won't work after that date. For example 13abc transmits our digital signal on channel 19 today, but we will move it back to channel 13 after we shut our analog transmitter off. The amount of power we will be using will be quite a bit less and Arlington is quite a distance away. I would certainly suggest an antenna that is designed for great distance, and also has a good front to back ratio since there is a channel 13 (digital) in Columbus. I would not install a UHF only antenna, as many "HDTV" antennas being sold today really are. Besides channel 13, channel 11 will also broadcast from the VHF band.

I hope this information is of help.
Regards, Tom Young

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QUESTION: Hi, We use an over the air antenna to recieve the digital signal. We get channels 11, 24, 27, 30, 36, and 40, but no ch.13! What's up? Where is your signal? Thanks for any information you can provide.

Denise & Jack Sheets

ANSWER: Denise & Jack , There are many reasons why you could have problems with one station or another, but a poor or weak signal isn't the problem here. WTVG-DT has the strongest signal in the Toledo area.

There are several questions that come to mind that are necessary to know before answering your question, but I suspect that you live in an area where there is interference from another station on channel 19, where our DT signal is today. That might include any area to the East, where you would get interference from the channel 19 analog in the Cleveland area, or anywhere that is closer to Fort Wayne than Toledo. There is a channel 19 digital in Fort Wayne. If this appears to be the issue, try a small indoor antenna like rabbit ears and see if we come in. If not, feel free to call me at the station, and let me try to troubleshoot this for you. The number is 419-531-1313. I am usually here from about 9am until 5:30pm.

Regards, Tom Young

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QUESTION: Hi Tom. Thanks for your reply on our dtv question.Let me start by saying we are in Bryan that is west of Toledo and about 50 miles from Fort Wayne. We are to far from Toledo for a small indoor ant. On ch 19 all we get is a black screen.Could it be both signals are canceling each other out.All the other Toledo dtv comes in just great. Any ideals what we can do to get yours? Thanks, Jack and Denise

ANSWER: Jack and Denise, You are absolutely correct. The problem you are experiencing is related to the channel 19 (digital) in Fort Wayne. The only advice I can give you is to try an antenna that has very good directional qualities. Your problem will be complicated by the fact that two Toledo stations will change channels and return to VHF next year. As for now we are on channel 19 (digital) in the UHF band. Our digital channel will return to channel 13 and channel 11 will move its digital transmitter from channel 17 back to channel 11. The bad news is that both stations will be broadcasting at a lower power level and it is unknown how well the signals will work at that distance. I can't make any guarantees, but I have had pretty good success with separate UHF and VHF antennas. For the UHF antenna I use the Channel Master 4228, which is an 8 bowtie antenna with a screen behind it. If you do this there has to be a way of combining the UHF and VHF antennas in such a way that they don't interfere with each other. I won't say it will work for you because the station in Fort Wayne is using 1 million (effective) watts and we are using 750,000 watts. At your location it is going to be difficult to block out Fort Wayne using any technique. There is hope on the horizon when we return to channel 13. Let's just hope the signal reaches that far out. We will be doing some testing in the months ahead and I'll have a better idea of what we can expect after we analyze these tests.

Regards, Tom Young

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QUESTION: Will I be able to receive over-the-air digital TV reception in Fostoria after Feb 2009? I am concerned that the distance may be too great. In other words, will Fostoria be within your digital transmitted over-the-air coverage area?

Lee Willer

ANSWER: Lee,
That is a good question. Today WTVG-DT broadcasts on channel 19 at an effective radiated power of 750,000 watts and can be received in Fostoria with an indoor antenna. (I have parents there and have tried it). After the analog shutdown we are going back to channel 13 but the effective radiated power will be much less. Also, there is a channel 13 (digital) in Columbus. If you are preparing I would suggest an antenna designed for both UHF and VHF. That should work just fine, but I must tell you that we have done no tests yet to prove that our new arrangement will work. We do plan to shut channel 13 analog off in the early morning hours and do such tests in the near future. Until then I can't say for certain that you will have no problems, but engineering calculations indicate that you will have no trouble. When we do these tests I'll write a new article for the web (www.13abc.com) and let everyone know what the results were. By the way channel 11 is also going back to their VHF assignment after the analog shutdown, so the advice about having an antenna capable of VHF reception is important for reception of that channel also. I have written an article for the website that should be published in the near future that addresses this issue.

Regards,
Tom Young

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