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Digital TV Transition: new update and FAQ

UPDATE 6/17 12:45 p.m.: THIRTEEN is at full power

Please be advised that Channels 13, 7 and 11 are broadcasting at full power from the same antenna atop the Empire State Building. Make sure you have a dual band antenna (VHF & UHF). You may need to perform several adjustments before receiving all channels. Each time you adjust your antenna you must also re-scan channels. For more advice about adjusting your antenna, visit www.antennaweb.com. For other details and information, including support centers in your neighborhood, visit www.dtv.gov.

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UPDATE 6/15 1:20 p.m.: Possible solution — a “double rescan”

Following up on previous discussions regarding reception & signal problems with high VHF channels, the FCC is trying to determine if there is a pattern nationwide. They have identified one potential solution that has been successful in solving the majority of problems for some stations — a “double rescan” the converter boxes. Here are the steps:

  • Detach antenna
  • Rescan converter box (to clear memory)
  • Detach converter box power cord for 1 minute (to ensure that memory is clear)
  • Reattach both power cord and antenna
  • Rescan again

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    On June 12th at 12:30pm, WNET, along with other New York broadcasters, made the long-awaited switch to Digital television in compliance with the federal mandate. The following is some important information you need to know in order to receive our signal.

    If you have already connected your converter box or have a television with a digital tuner and are unable to view Thirteen, please re-scan your box or television using the MENU button (look for a feature that says “Scan” or “Auto scan”) or SCAN button on your remote or by consulting the instructions. This is the same scanning process you conducted when you first installed your box or television. If you still have a problem after re-scanning channels, look for an UPDATE function and select that. Each converter box and television is different, so you may need to review the instruction manual.

    Also, make sure you are using an antenna that covers both the VHF and UHF bands and have connected it properly. You may also need to adjust the position of your antenna to receive our signal.

    If you do not yet have a converter box, you will need to purchase one to view Thirteen on your analog television. Alternatively, you can subscribe to cable or satellite service or purchase a television with a digital tuner.

    For more detailed information and instructions, please visit www.dtv.gov or call 1-888-225-5322.

    Thank you for your interest in Thirteen.

    FAQ on the DTV Transition:

    I installed my new DTV Converter box, and now can’t get Thirteen. What happened?

      This is because we are still broadcasting our analog signal. Once the analog shut down takes place in June, you will be able to receive Thirteen using your converter box. In the meantime, please check your box to see if it has an analog pass-through switch. This will enable you to view Thirteen. If it does not have the pass-through switch, you can disconnect your box to view Thirteen. We regret this inconvenience and appreciate your patience.

    Why is it that I can get every other station through the box, but not Thirteen?

      Thirteen’s full power digital antenna was destroyed in the attacks on the World Trade Center in 2001. While commercial stations were able to replace both their digital and analog antennas, Thirteen does not have the funding to have 2 full-power transmitters broadcasting simultaneously. On June 12, 2009, Thirteen will switch to a high-power DTV transmitter that will reach everyone in the viewing area.

    Why couldn’t the switch to digital be made on Feb. 17 as originally scheduled, instead of the new date June 12?

      Many of our viewers were unable to buy converter boxes due to the government shortage of coupons and retail shortages of boxes. Making the switch earlier would mean turning off our analog signal and leaving these viewers in the dark. We want to be sure that all of our viewers are able to see our programming.

    Stations in other cities, like Madison, WI and Seattle have switched to digital already. Why can’t you?

      The airwaves in our densely-populated, Eastern-Seaboard region accommodate a limited number of analog and digital signals. The FCC made temporary digital channel assignments to avoid interference problems. If Thirteen had completed digital conversion on February 17, it could have created interference problems with broadcast signals in nearby cities, so stations in our region are planning to complete the final conversion to digital at the same time in June.


    If you have other questions that haven’t been answered by this FAQ, please post them in the comments so we can continue to add to the FAQ as necessary. Thank you!

    DTV special

    Watch the special where Norm Abram from This Old House and Maria Hinojosa from NOW on PBS explain what the digital TV transition is, and what you have to do (26 minutes). Again, the deadline is now pushed back to June 12, 2009.

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot422LMFc5s&hl=en&fs=1]

    See thirteen’s site about the Digital Television transition.

    Antennaweb can help you figure out what kind of converter box/antenna you need.