December 7th: Say Goodbye to the old Channel 13

(11/14/08) - The date has been set for analog channel 13 to permanently shut down...

Update November 28th: the next to last paragraph has been corrected to include information about HD programming on WBKO-ABC.

I was on the phone with a viewer the other day talking through some of the steps involved in hooking up his DTV converter box.  Before he hung up with me he said "I know what the D stands for in DTV...d@#%!"  We both had a good laugh over that one, but his well placed expletive certainly testifies to the fact that many of you are frustrated with the coming transition from analog to digital television.  For the record, this is not a WBKO-thing...it's a mandate from the Feds...the Federal Communications Commission to be exact.  Every commercial television station in the nation is being required to make this transition before the deadline of February 17, 2009.

Hopefully you've heard by now WBKO will be making the transition to digital much sooner.  In fact, as of this writing I can tell you that the last day WBKO will be broadcasting on analog (regular) channel 13 will be Sunday, December 7th.  When we turn our analog transmitter off the night of December 7th, it will never be turned on again.

This means you only have a few weeks to get all your TV's digital ready.

Hopefully you've been able to take advantage of our on-air DTV Tests which air just before many of our main weather segments.  Leading up to our transition on December 7th, here are the times when you can catch one of our DTV Tests...

Mondays          AM Kentucky between 6-6:30am

Tuesdays         Midday between 11-11:30am

Wednesdays   WBKO @ 5pm

Thursdays       WBKO @ 6pm

Fridays             WBKO @ 10pm

Saturdays and Sundays     WBKO @ 10pm

If during our tests you lose our signal, it either means you're still watching us in analog or your cable system hasn't yet upgraded to digital.  If you have hooked up a DTV converter box and you lose our signal it may be because of a weak signal.  Once we install our new full-power digital transmitter in December, WBKO's digital signal should be satisfactory.

Keep in mind, the digital transmitter we're broadcasting on right now is a temporary transmitter that is actually broadcasting on digital channel 33.  On some new TV's that have a digital tuner supplied, the first time you search for WBKO you might have to tune to channel 33 to find us.  From then on, a digital chip in your TV reorganizes channel 33 to channel 13 and should automatically tune to digital channel 13 from then on.

And for those of you who still don't know...WBKO-ABC is digital channel 13.1...WBKO-FOX is digital channel 13.2...and WBKO-CW is digital channel 13.3.  Once you hook up your DTV converter box you will be able to see two additional WBKO channels you never had before on analog...our FOX channel and our CW channel.

By the way...we are not on either Dish Network or DirecTV satellite.  We sure would like to be.  It's up to both satellite providers to put us on their tiers.  For now, they have taken care of all the larger market TV stations in America's biggest cities.  They have yet to work their way down to Bowling Green but we've been told it will happen eventually.  If you are a Dish or DirecTV customer, my best advice is to let them know how badly you want WBKO on satellite.

So, like the fella I was telling you about earlier who cursed his way through the transition...if you're like him and are just plain ol' frustrated with the hookup process, I have some diagrams that I hope will help.

Think of the attachment of a DTV converter box like hooking up a VCR or DVD.  It's much the same process in that you must tune your TV to channel 3 before you can see the converter box!  A lot of people are hooking up the equipment correctly but are missing that all important step.  Once you've hooked everything up, make sure if you're still not seeing a digital picture that you've tuned your analog TV to channel 3.  After you've made the proper hookup, you should see something you've not seen on analog TV...a banner which shows the channel number, the program name and the call letters of the station.  On many models, you can hit the "Display" button on the remote and see a "Signal" meter which will help you determine if you have the antenna pointed in the right direction of the station you're trying to watch.

By the way, WBKO's transmitter is located near Richardsville on the north end of Warren County.  If you're having trouble picking up our digital signal, try moving your indoor and/or outdoor antenna toward the northern end of Warren County from where you live.  Then have someone watch the signal strength meter on your TV to let you know when the signal is the highest.

Also, don't let anyone try to sell you a high-priced digital TV antenna.  Most TV antennas...including rabbit ears will work with digital TV signals.

So, are you ready for the hookup?  Let's get started.

This is the simplest of hookups if all you have is a regular analog TV.  If you have your antenna going straight into the back of your TV, unhook it from the back of your TV and put it into the "IN from antenna" section of your DTV converter box.  Then take the supplied coax cable that comes with your DTV converter box hooking one end to the "OUT to TV" end of the converter box to the VHF/ANT input on your TV...the place you originally had your TV antenna hooked up.  Now, turn on your DTV converter box and your TV set.  DON'T FORGET TO TUNE YOUR TV TO CHANNEL 3!  This will allow you to see the DTV converter box on your analog TV.  From there, your DTV converter box should show you an on screen setup menu.  This should help you auto scan for all the digital channels available in your area.  In other words, the DTV converter box will assist you in finding all the digital signals coming in to your TV.  If you are able to pick up WBKO's digital signal, you should see 13.1, 13.2 and 13.3 once your converter box "auto scans".

In some of the setup menus, you may also find settings for the current time, closed-captioning options and display modes.  In display mode, you can set the picture to display in 16x9 letterbox style (with black areas at the top and bottom of the picture), zoom (which will fill the screen) or full (which is for actual HDTV sets).  Keep in mind, because WBKO "splits" it's digital stream different ways, we are not broadcasting all of our programming in FULL HD...at least not yet.  Those of you who have the higher end 1080p HDTV's are actually watching digital video from us that is being "up-converted" to fit your screen, but only some ABC network programs and some Raycom SEC ball games are broadcast in full HD.  WBKO's newscasts are not broadcast in HD.

There are many other ways to hook up your regular analog TV to receive WBKO's digital signal if you have a DVD or VCR.  In my next post, I will detail those hookups along with the diagrams to go with it.

Again, if you have further questions, please e-mail us here... dtv@wbko.com

Good luck!

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