When the nationwide switch to digital TV transmission (DTV) finally happens on June 12, many viewers using antennas and DTV converter boxes will be surprised and probably a little more than annoyed to find that they are unable to view some of the stations they could watch before the switch.
The problem is that, even when the TV stations are transmitting at full power, the digital TV signals don’t radiate quite as far from the stations’ towers as their old analog signals. In addition, natural and man-made features such as hills, trees and buildings can interfere with the digital TV signals. As the FCC points out, “Your signal strength may be significantly lower in extremely hilly areas.” On the other hand, some locations that had previously been unable to receive the TV station’s old analog signal will be able to receive the new digital signal.
To help identify the DTV transition winners and losers, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has provided a set of detailed maps showing the digital and analog ranges of every TV station in the nation. By entering your city, address or zip code at the FCC’s DTV Reception Maps page, you can view a list of all TV stations serving you. The strength of each station’s signal reaching you will be rated as “strong,” “moderate,” “weak” or “no signal.” Clicking on the TV station’s call sign, and then on the “Gain/Loss Map” link will display a detailed map showing the specific areas where the station’s DTV signal will be available or lost.
In some areas where the digital signal will be lost, another channel from the same network will be available. In the worst cases, coverage will be lost and no other station from the same network will be available. Ouch!
To help TV set owners improve their DTV signal reception, the FCC has provided a very detailed Trouble Shooting Guide describing ways to adjust or upgrade their antennas. Another very useful resource for those desiring to upgrade or replace their TV antennas is AntennaWeb.org.