Literally… change is in the air

If you are receiving digital channels from off-air UHF and VHF antennas this applies to you. If you are not, it is still interesting reading.

Your cable TV system provides exceptional value and quality of entertainment. The channels are received from 2 sources:

  1. UHF and VHF local transmitters
  2. Satellite TV from the business wholesale division of DirecTV

The advantage of receiving channels from local broadcast transmitters is to receive additional free programming with many of the classic rerun shows.  Additionally, these channels received from antennas are more reliable in heavy rainfall. Most of these channels are in High Definition digital (if the programs themselves are in high definition.) Cable TV channels such as CNN, ESPN, Discovery are available only via satellite in a private cable TV system.

Up until a few years ago, analog was the norm.  (1) radio frequency yielded (1) TV channel. VHF broadcast frequency 13 was Channel 13 on the TV. Simple. Then comes progress….However with digital broadcasts often up to 4-5 channels can be digitally compressed and broadcast in the same space as that 1 analog channel.   This is why you now see numbering such as Channel 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.4.   In fact sometimes RF channel 8 might be “remapped“ to appear as 12.1, 12.2, 12.3, 12.4 etc.  What seems like no rhyme or reason is based on local conflicts with other transmitting sources. This frees up some of the airwaves to use for other purposes such as communications. AS an advanced maneuver to provide even more value for our customers, instead of relying only on satellite,   SeniorTV uses special equipment to receive the local off-air channels and also make it simple to watch by converting all the decimal channels to easy-to-tune whole numbers.

Here’s the scoop…we need your eyes and ears to ensure there are no interruptions in programming.

On a national level, the FCC is doing a “repack” of all the TV channels and frequencies.  They are maximizing the use of the airwaves and making stations combine frequencies and shift transmitters.  The local COZIor Decadeschannel showing classic reruns that formerly used one of the less expensive decimal subchannels of a major NBC affiliate may have to shift to another transmitter. Additionally, the major network affiliate may also shift its actual broadcast RF frequency i.e. from 13 to 20 and all the decimal sub channels go with it.

Bottom line:  If the equipment used to tune Channel 4.3 on your cable system suddenly does not have a 4.3 to tune to (since the FCC reassigned the frequency to 7.2), that channel will appear blank until the revised frequency assignment is set. This can be managed and SeniorTV can retune equipment in most cases without adding additional equipment.  Occasionally, some channels have simply gone off the air rather than investing money in new transmitters.

The FCC has put forth a schedule of when various stations in different cities will be returned.  This schedule is available on www.antennaweb.org. By placing your address in the search bar a list of channels and the “repack schedule” will appear.  The FCC itself has a website explain this along with a schedule of the Phase Completion Date based on the geographic market.

Here’s the rub….. the schedule has proven to be wrong on many occasions with no warning as to when the “hidden real-frequency” will change.  Many stations have jumped the gun to get their frequency change done early.   Consequently, this will result in a temporary outage until the equipment is returned or new equipment is installed.

Because of the magnitude of these changes occurring throughout the country, and often with no advance notice, SeniorTV asks you to immediately contact us should you suddenly find any of your local digital off-air channels not working.  In some cases in Florida for example, in two separate television markets,  one classic rerun TV channel changed frequencies two times within 30 days before it settled into its final position. In another market, two competing PBS channels “merged” and one complete set of channels no longer exists.

In the name of digital progress – This problem a. is nothing you created nor b. anything SeniorTV created.  It is solely between the FCC and the local UHF and VHF stations so they can maximize use of public airwaves.  All transitions are supposed to be complete by 2020.  Many have happened many months before the estimated date.

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