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Guide to TV antenna installation

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TVs Digital Transition

Millions of Americans loose channels on June 12th 2009 

There will be some who see it differently then I do but from my viewpoint I am going to set the record straight on at least one issue. There is one problem and it's a big one that needs to be confronted but nobody seems to be talking about it. It has been reported that millions of viewers lost the reception of at least one channel on June 12th.

As I write this it's been 10 days since the analog signals were turned off forever and currently the biggest question is this, How come so many viewers lost reception on one or more channels on June 12th? I can tell you one of the major reason why.

There are two things required to receive free over the air digital TV reception. A digital TV tuner and the proper TV antenna. Of course these items have to be properly set up and installed but these are the two major pieces of equipment required for digital TV reception.

The FCC and TV stations are taking most of the heat for the loss of these stations but is the finger pointing in the right direction? Most of the stations that were lost by viewers were by law required to move their digital broadcasting signal from UHF to VHF on June 12th 09. Everyone involved in the transition knew or should have known that this was going to happen. It was planned from day one.

What does VHF and UHF signals have to do with the loss of channels? and why is this a problem? It all starts where it usually does unethical individuals scamming the public to fill their pockets with money. Along with miss-management by U.S. Government agencies in charge of the transition and the uniformed politicians overseeing the transition. Not to mention the failure to get adequate and understandable information out to the public.

Lets start with the scam. VHF and UHF signals are different only in signal frequency and because of this they will react different under certain circumstances. Each signal requires antennas of much different style and design to work properly. I won't go into detail but VHF antennas are used to receive channels 2-13 and UHF antennas are for channels 14 and above. Nearly all Americans need a VHF/UHF combination antenna to receive all of their digital channels. The plain truth is this, antennas that receive VHF signal properly must by design be somewhat larger then UHF antennas. That's the physics of the matter. Here's the kicker, nearly all U.S. digital TV station were assigned by the FCC to the UHF broadcast frequency band prior to the June 12th deadline. In most areas of the Country antennas designed for UHF signal worked great prior to June 12th. You see antennas designed primarily for use on UHF signals are much smaller in size allowing manufacturers and retailers to exploit the consumer's quest for the smallest antenna.

Starting a few years back unethical manufacturers and retailers saw dollar signs in the transition. They designed and sold UHF antennas and called them inappropriately "HDTV Antennas". At that time they knew very well that some of the UHF digital station would indeed return to the VHF frequency band on June 12th. They called these newly designed UHF antennas "HDTV Antennas" and sold them to unaware consumer. These new antennas generally worked great for most digital reception prior to June 12th but are failing now. Why? because they're UHF antennas designed for UHF reception and won't work on the new post transition VHF signals. What really burns me is that the people who promoted and sold these antennas knew perfectly well that for most people VHF signals would return to their area on June 12th. They knew their antennas would fail on this date but they didn't care as long as they were making a buck. The result is many people are now stuck with a UHF antenna that won't pick up the post June 12th VHF signals. These people are destined to find a blank screen in place of some channels unless they dish out more money for the proper antenna. One retailer is now making an add on antenna to be sold at nearly $120 to go with their inadequate antennas they sold for several years prior to the June 12th deadline. Shame on you.

So who's to blame for all of this? Thousands of Americans from all over the Country just lost reception from at least one major over the air free network station. It may be ABC, NBC, or CBS but it's gone likely because of the antenna. Why didn't the proper Government agency control this? They controlled everything else. They spent tax payers money to educate the public. They enforced regulations on the TV tuner. They assigned the TV frequencies. They orchestrated the whole thing but neglected to inform the public on the importance of the proper TV antenna. Only in the last couple of months leading up to the June 12th deadline did they even begin to tell people about the need for a VHF and UHF antenna. Go ahead type "HDTV Antenna" into any search engine. Walk into most retailers and you'll find primarily UHF antennas for sale disguised as "HDTV Antennas" and these antennas won't work for VHF reception.

I know there are other issues. Most are genuine reception issues that have to be overcome. But this one issue could have been avoided. About 2 years ago I contacted the company hired to operate a popular Government DTV website. I informed them that many of the antennas they had pictured on their site were UHF antennas. Many of the public service TV spots also pictured these same antennas. I explained that in all likely hood these antennas wouldn't work post transition due to the fact that some stations would move their current digital signal from UHF to VHF. Here's the response I received. "We are aware of this and you are correct. However, we want the antennas shown to look modern, high tech, and be small in size". "We want the people to view this as a transition to modern TV and not the TV of their Grandparents". What's up with that! They new the possibility existed that these antennas would fail to work after June 12th but did nothing?

Don't blame the TV station. For the most part the TV station broadcast signal is regulated by the Government. Congress writes the laws with input from the FCC, the NAB, and others. The FCC writes regulations pertaining to the law and enforces them. The TV stations for the most part do what they are told when it comes to their broadcast signal.

Over the past 5 years our website has sold thousands of antennas to viewers in every State in the Country and our customers are not having this problem. Our customer contact rate on this issue has been less then 0.01% Why? because we recommended the proper antenna even though we knew we would lose sales because some viewers would opt for a smaller UHF antenna rather then purchase the one we recommended.

Please don't read something into this that's not there. I'm not saying this is the only issue we are facing when it comes to digital TV reception. What I am saying is this, it's one of the bigger issues that was certainly avoidable and it should have never happened. The good news is for most people stuck in this situation it can be corrected with the proper VHF and UHF combination antenna and equipment.

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