Some non-cable viewers still have digital reception problems
A recent question to Ask the Times from reader Pat McQuaide really got folks riled — mostly because they thought we bungled the answer. Action decided to take a stab at it this time.
McQuaide wrote because she was unable to watch WEDU on her new digital, flat-screen television after the switch to digital transmission. We hadn't heard that complaint previously, but we've certainly heard about it now.
Alba Kowalski wrote, "We also no longer receive WEDU among a few other stations. We purchased a new flat-screen digital TV in February." Kowalski said she doesn't have cable either because she only watches the evening news and public television. "We thought there was a glitch in the government converting to digital and have been waiting for it to correct itself."
David Nichols thought the problem was likely an issue of where McQuaide lived in relation to the broadcast tower.
"When my wife and I travel in our RV we have found that digital signals are much more finicky than the old analog. With analog, you might have a weak signal but you would get a snowy picture. With digital, you either get it or you don't," Nichols said.
"I had the same problem with my new digital TV that didn't need a converter box," wrote Muriel Desloovere. She found a nice man at WUSF who walked her through a rescanning process.
Desloovere reported it took a while to perform, "but afterwards, I was able to get all the digital programs."
We decided to go to the source.
Frank Wolynski, vice president of engineering for WEDU, said, "Eighty percent of the calls we've received regarding over-the-air, or non-cable viewing difficulties have been due to the set top (converter) box and TV tuners needing to be 'rescanned' to acquire new channels."
You might want to consult your owner's manual, but Wolynski suggested that viewers disconnect the antenna cable, which forces the set top box or TV tuner to clear the memory and reconnect to the new signals.
This should solve the problem.
Living in a rural area shouldn't pose a problem for most bay area communities, Wolynski said.
Hi-band VHF stations such as WFLA, WTVT and WEDU all have transmitters within a couple of miles of each other in Riverview, so if you get one, you should get them all without trouble.
"Antennas made for this band are capable of reception of the other Hi-VHF channels," Wolynski said.
UHF channels, those above 13, require a different kind of antenna, so it's best to have one that will receive both kinds of signals.
Which brings us to the other 20 percent of calls WEDU receives. Wolynski said these involve antenna or antenna wiring problems.
"A lot of the area's homes have 20-year-old antennas that worked fine for the most part for analog television," Wolynski said, "but aren't capable of pulling in enough digital television signal to be workable." If you can't remember the last time yours was inspected, find a company to do so under "Antennas" in the Yellow Pages.
Wolynski said viewers with reception questions are welcome to call WEDU at (813) 254-9338 and ask for engineering during normal business hours, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.