No Signal!

(12/11/08) - This post is especially for those of you frustrated with the transition to digital and WBKO's signal outtages...

For those of you who've read my last few posts dealing with the transition to digital television hopefully heard the warning of impending confusion in each paragraph.  On a given day we receive hundreds of phone calls and e-mails with questions about the DTV conversion.  Yet the greatest number of inquiries come from viewers who say they've hooked up their converter boxes correctly and still get "no signal".  What's up with that?  Wasn't the change to digital supposed to make watching TV an even better experience?

We hear you.

When we shut down our analog signal Sunday night for the last time, we said goodbye to the way our signal had been sent from us to your home for almost 50 years.  Granted, the timing of this transition is not the best with Christmas only a few days away in the middle of a recession...but the schedule of events that are taking place right now were set into motion long ago.  The FCC sat the mandate for every TV station in the country to make this change on or before February 17th, 2009.  In order for us to make the change to digital, we had to schedule our transition when the manufacturers and installers of our new antenna and transmitter could come to Bowling Green and do the work.  Keep in mind there are well over 1700 TV stations and only a handful of antenna crews and transmitter installers.  We had to take them when we could get them.

Our signal will be better once we fully install our new antenna and digital transmitter.  If all goes as planned, we should be on line by December 22nd.  Until then, there will be interruptions and lots of "no signal" messages on your TV screens.  As I have explained before, we are now digital but broadcasting on a temporary signal (which is actually located at digital channel 33) and the signal contour doesn't quite cover the same general area that our analog signal did.  That's why many of you with converter boxes have told us you either get a pixelated picture or no picture at all.

During this time of antenna and transmitter installation, we're also shutting down our signal from dawn until dusk each day.  This means regardless of your converter box or antenna setup, there will be no signal at all while crews are working at the tower site.  However, we will return to broadcasting at 5pm each evening to bring you the local news and weather and the rest of our primetime programming at night.  We will also hold off on shutting down our signal each day until "AM Kentucky" is complete so you can get your morning dose of news and weather before you head off to work or school.

All that I described to you so far affects those who have hooked up a DTV converter box.  If you are watching us through one of our partner cable systems such as Insight, SCRTC, Brandenburg Co-op, North Central, Glasgow EPB and Duo-County Cable WBKO's programming will continue without interruption throughout the day and night no matter what work is being done at the tower site.

Once we have the new antenna and transmitter on line there's one more thing each of you watching us will have to do to every TV that has a converter box hooked to it...RESCAN!

Rescanning will allow your converter box to then "see" the new digital channel 13 signal at channel 13 instead of it's present (but temporary) location at channel 33.  And because we are installing the very latest, technologically-advanced digital transmitter and antenna, those of you who've had reception problems should see a very clean digital picture!  Not only that, but our coverage area should mimick or even surpass the coverage area we had with our old analog signal.

That's why we're advising everyone that asks "what should I do...buy a new antenna?" we say 'no'.  Your rabbit ears or antenna configuration you're now using should work just fine once all the work is completed.  Just be patient.  We realize it's difficult to do without a portion of our daily programming but it will all be back soon with an even better picture, quality sound and great reception.  If I were you, I wouldn't invest in a higher priced antenna or TV set just yet.  Once all the new equipment goes on line we'll then deal with any reception problems there may be.

For those who wonder about signal patterns and which antenna may work best for your location I found a great website that takes all this into consideration.  It's called AntennaWeb.org.

The incredible thing about this website is that it allows you to input your home address and it will display a map indicating all the digital TV signals you should be able to view.  It also helps with the kind of antenna you should purchase and which way you need to point your antenna for best reception for the stations you wish to receive.

In this example, I submitted the location of the WBKO studios on Russellville Road in Bowling Green.  When the actual map comes up, you're able to click on it (just not this one displayed) and move it around to best suit your needs or to better show the actual location of your home.  You may want to double-check the map that displays because it doesn't always pinpoint your home address right off.  Feel free to move the map around until you're sure it is centered where you live.

In this example, any TV hooked up to a converter box at our station should be able to receive good reception from digital channels from four areas depending on the direction the antenna is pointed.

If my antenna is pointed in the direction of "A" or northeast of my location, the webpage from AntennaWeb.org tells me I should receive digital channels 13.1, 13.2, 13.3 and 24.1.

If I turn my antenna more toward the east ("B" in the example), I should be able to receive digital channel 40.1.  If I want to see more of the Nashville stations, I would then need to move my antenna more toward example "C" which points more southwest.

When you go to this website and input your own information, a map like the one above and a list of available signals to your house will appear.  This will give you a better idea of the kind of antenna you may need and which way to point it to get the best reception.  Again...my recommendation is to wait until after December 22nd before purchasing new antennas for your residence.  Our new transmitter and antenna at our tower site should improve everyones reception of WBKO.

So, give this a try.  I think you'll find this website a real benefit to enhance your digital TV viewing experience.

Remember, should you continue to have questions about DTV and WBKO's transition to digital, please do not hesitate to either call us at 270-781-1313 (Monday through Friday 8am - 5pm) or send us an e-mail to dtv@wbko.com.

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