What's the next big thing for OTA TV? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 54 Old 08-05-2012, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Obviously, the start of digital broadcasting and the 2009 digital cutover were the biggest things to happen to broadcast TV in decades. Since then, we've seen some new antenna manufacturers show up, some small tweaking to antenna and amplifier designs (with some worsening), and some new channels pop up in various markets.

So what's next? The occasional new channel, something cool on the technology front, or something else entirely?

(Hoping this doesn't turn into a they'll-kill-OTA thread, but so it goes.)
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post #2 of 54 Old 08-05-2012, 07:41 PM
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Search "ATSC 2.0" and information like this appears.
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post #3 of 54 Old 08-05-2012, 07:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

Search "ATSC 2.0" and information like this appears.
Great! Wikipedia was a little sparse on that one, sorry.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atsc#Future_standards
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post #4 of 54 Old 08-05-2012, 09:02 PM
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Looks like just another business model to take your free OTA transmission, couple it with your existing internet connection, and then charge you for interactive and static content. I'd rather pay for my fast internet connection and then stream what I want to my tv and get the network programming for free OTA, which is what I do now, with the exception of my additional $8 Netflix subscription.
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post #5 of 54 Old 08-06-2012, 02:45 AM
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Originally Posted by Otto Pylot View Post

I'd rather pay for my fast internet connection and then stream what I want to my tv and get the network programming for free OTA, which is what I do now, with the exception of my additional $8 Netflix subscription.
In that scenario the OTA and OTT content are still strangers in the night. ATSC 2.0 seems to merge them, presumably in some useful way for the end user (TBD).

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post #6 of 54 Old 08-06-2012, 09:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Roger Dressler View Post

In that scenario the OTA and OTT content are still strangers in the night. ATSC 2.0 seems to merge them, presumably in some useful way for the end user (TBD).

I guess time will tell. If there is anyway for the content providers (network, internet) to screw the public and make money off of them, they will find a way. BTW, I really like the Deadwood Theater wink.gif
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post #7 of 54 Old 08-06-2012, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by Otto Pylot View Post

I guess time will tell. If there is anyway for the content providers (network, internet) to screw the public and make money off of them, they will find a way.
The "screw" requires a willing victim that wants what is being offered. Consumers retain the right of first refusal. If the product is not of value, it will not fly. Notice how long it took for "24 hour" 3D to disappear from DirecTV. It's the beauty of the free market.
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post #8 of 54 Old 08-06-2012, 04:53 PM
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This side of the pond we already have DTV 2.0. In 1998 we introduced digital OTA - but unlike the US we went SD MPEG2 not HD, though we did go 16:9 SD - and SD 16:9 became the norm by around 2000.

We delayed HD (UK budgets weren't high enough to consider it 15 years ago) - and as a result we've now introduced HD (satelite in 2006, OTA a bit later) using a second-generation OTA system using H264 (aka MPEG4) and an improved modulation scheme (DVB-T2 - which we're running at 40Mbs in an 8MHz channel, compared to 27Mbs for DVB-T in the same space) We could also have introduced MIMO techniques - but the requirement for new rooftop aerials (antennae) was considered a step to far.

The other thing that has accompanied the new OTA DVB-T2 standard is an upgrade to the digital text system that was introduced in 1998. The new standard receiver profile mandates Ethernet connectivity, and the digital text upgrade is IPTV aware. We therefore have some IPTV services appearing on the OTA platform - some are providing catch-up TV (the BBC are offering a 7 day catch-up service on the new set top boxes), and some minor TV channels are running as IPTV services but within the OTA EPG. There is also a strong likelihood that the new "Red Button" interactive TV system - that currently relies on broadcast spectrum for additional video streams - will shift these to IPTV streams over time (though there is a huge installed base of SD MPEG2 receivers with no IPTV functionality to consider as well)

Then again - there's been recent talk in the House of Lords (upper house of the UK Govt) of trying to shift OTA entirely to IPTV provided over the internet in the UK - to allow the broadcast spectrum to be used for other stuff like mobile broadband...
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post #9 of 54 Old 08-07-2012, 08:36 AM
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I was ranting about this a little on the MythTV list. What I would like is someone like Dreambox to produce an ATSC tuner for their PVR boxes. Or even an interface to an HDHomerun. A cheap, easy to get DVR for OTA without a subscription on an open platform (Enigma?) would push OTA DVR's from niche or non existant to a more prominent position. We had a Dreambox (800HD) watching satelilte in Europe. It's nice, very modifiable and allows streaming to a pc out of the box. It came without harddrive, so you open the box and pop in a laptop HD of your choice. The tuner was in an expansion slot, so you can order Sat or DVB-T. So it wouldn't be too hard to take what they have and produce and ATSC card. Just some software tweaks.
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post #10 of 54 Old 08-07-2012, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by rdoac View Post

I was ranting about this a little on the MythTV list. What I would like is someone like Dreambox to produce an ATSC tuner for their PVR boxes. Or even an interface to an HDHomerun. A cheap, easy to get DVR for OTA without a subscription on an open platform (Enigma?) would push OTA DVR's from niche or non existant to a more prominent position. We had a Dreambox (800HD) watching satelilte in Europe. It's nice, very modifiable and allows streaming to a pc out of the box. It came without harddrive, so you open the box and pop in a laptop HD of your choice. The tuner was in an expansion slot, so you can order Sat or DVB-T. So it wouldn't be too hard to take what they have and produce and ATSC card. Just some software tweaks.

You can use USB DVB-T and DVB-S/S2 interfaces on some Dreamboxes - allowing you to add second tuner functionality to existing single-tuner boxes. They are leveraging V4L I think - so it could be that USB ATSC tuners can be used with a little footling?

I've got a DM800HD - but am only running it single tuner.
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post #11 of 54 Old 08-07-2012, 09:49 AM
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When I moved here, I asked Dream if they had support for ATSC, but they didn't have any plans for it. I managed to get the dreambox to play a stream from VDR, but it was a little choppy in quality. I ended up selling the box on fleebay (it ended up in Jamaica). However, it's nice and wouldn't require much to get ATSC working. I don't think there was support for it in Enigma at that time. The HDHomerun would probably be the easiest way to get it working. Having used internal cards and HDHomeruns, the latter are much more stable, no worries about drivers and just work (unless there's a power drop and your switch crashes during a thunderstorm - like mine does).

If working, they could do a Dreambox probably for less than a Tivo with no monthly charge, it would still be niche, but it would be a very happy niche.
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post #12 of 54 Old 08-10-2012, 09:13 PM
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The next big thing for OTA will be a bigger audience. I just read a website a few days ago that said the cable industry has lost 400,000 subscribers this year. A lot of them will find out how good OTA is with channels like MeTV, This TV, and the big 4 networks in HD and will not go back to pay TV.

Thursday night I was copying Batman and Get Smart off of MeTV with my SD converter box and VCR. I had my HD Tuner tuned into PBS watching the Ken Burns documentary The War in HD and I was flipping back and forth to a preseason football game in HD. All of this entertainment for free.
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post #13 of 54 Old 08-11-2012, 06:40 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Jedi Master View Post

The next big thing for OTA will be a bigger audience. I just read a website a few days ago that said the cable industry has lost 400,000 subscribers this year. A lot of them will find out how good OTA is with channels like MeTV, This TV, and the big 4 networks in HD and will not go back to pay TV.
Thursday night I was copying Batman and Get Smart off of MeTV with my SD converter box and VCR. I had my HD Tuner tuned into PBS watching the Ken Burns documentary The War in HD and I was flipping back and forth to a preseason football game in HD. All of this entertainment for free.

Why are you assuming that they are going OTA? As I said I'd all for OTA if the stations didn't make it so hard for people like me to get their stations in.
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post #14 of 54 Old 08-11-2012, 07:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

Why are you assuming that they are going OTA? As I said I'd all for OTA if the stations didn't make it so hard for people like me to get their stations in.
How are they making it hard for you?
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post #15 of 54 Old 08-11-2012, 10:06 AM
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Originally Posted by Cabal0 View Post

How are they making it hard for you?

Yes - I'm confused by that comment too.
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post #16 of 54 Old 08-11-2012, 01:17 PM
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I can cite two things that stations have done that prevents viewers from receiving their signals OTA.

First, many stations are not broadcasting their greatest potential signal. They are either not broadcasting at power levels below the maximum allowed by the FCC, including taking advantage of the maximum station exception, or they are not broadcasting from the best possible tower location.

Second, many stations have chosen to broadcast on VHF frequencies, or more astonishingly, low VHF frequencies. While understandable during the early days of the digital transition, as the inferior propagation of VHF was not yet fully understood, by the time the transition came to an end in June 2009, and stations had to make their final channel election, the inadequacies of VHF, and especially low VHF, were well known.

Other than those two things, much of the trouble with OTA reception is due to the nature of digital transmission itself, and more specifically with interference, not with the stations. Phoenix AZ and Austin TX (at least the eastern half of the market) offer near-optimal conditions for digital broadcasting, but Chattanooga TN and Pittsburgh PA have serious terrain challenges, and New York City and Chicago have man-made challenges to reception, which produced ghosts in the analog signal, but completely cancel out a digital signal.
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post #17 of 54 Old 08-11-2012, 02:22 PM
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Originally Posted by dhett View Post

I.... much of the trouble with OTA reception is due to the nature of digital transmission itself, and more specifically with interference, not with the stations. .

That's the bottom liine. And, the lack of expertise/knowledge by the user. It's not a conspiracy or self-sabotage.
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post #18 of 54 Old 08-11-2012, 02:39 PM
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As a Brit, where we have a national transmitter plan, where all stations broadcast from the same mast, it's always struck me as counterproductive that some regions in the US have transmitters in different locations serving the same community? You surely want people to all point their aerials (antennae) in the same direction?

The BBC and the IBA (who were the main UK terrestrials in the 50s-80s) both had transmitter sites, but there was an agreement that they would share masts and lease space from each other. Where the BBC owned the site the IBA would rent space for their channels, and vice versa.
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post #19 of 54 Old 08-11-2012, 05:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by dhett View Post

I can cite two things that stations have done that prevents viewers from receiving their signals OTA.
First, many stations are not broadcasting their greatest potential signal. They are either not broadcasting at power levels below the maximum allowed by the FCC, including taking advantage of the maximum station exception, or they are not broadcasting from the best possible tower location.

I imagine it's a calculated risk on their part. If running a tower at half power will get coverage to 95% of a market (for example), it doesn't make much sense to pay double for power in the hopes that some of that remaining 5% are interested in OTA TV. Broadcasters aren't exactly rolling in dough these days.
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Second, many stations have chosen to broadcast on VHF frequencies, or more astonishingly, low VHF frequencies. While understandable during the early days of the digital transition, as the inferior propagation of VHF was not yet fully understood, by the time the transition came to an end in June 2009, and stations had to make their final channel election, the inadequacies of VHF, and especially low VHF, were well known.
No argument here. Perhaps there were equipment considerations when those choices were made.
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post #20 of 54 Old 08-11-2012, 11:44 PM
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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

As a Brit, where we have a national transmitter plan, where all stations broadcast from the same mast, it's always struck me as counterproductive that some regions in the US have transmitters in different locations serving the same community? You surely want people to all point their aerials (antennae) in the same direction?
The BBC and the IBA (who were the main UK terrestrials in the 50s-80s) both had transmitter sites, but there was an agreement that they would share masts and lease space from each other. Where the BBC owned the site the IBA would rent space for their channels, and vice versa.

Historically, transmitter facilities were erected and owned by individual stations, which later coalesced into "station groups" (Sinclair, Media General, Hearst-Argyle, etc.) that do not generally correspond to the broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC etc.) In any market, these all compete against each other and usually have little or no incentive to cooperate on sharing transmitter towers. Any "national transmitter plan" would probably be denounced as "socialistic" and "anti-business" and "un-American." rolleyes.gif
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post #21 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 02:18 AM
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Originally Posted by Jedi Master View Post
A lot of them will find out how good OTA is with channels like MeTV, This TV, and the big 4 networks in HD and will not go back to pay TV.

 

How good OTA is to you might not be enough to make them cancel their pay provider.

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post #22 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 05:48 AM
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Historically, transmitter facilities were erected and owned by individual stations, which later coalesced into "station groups" (Sinclair, Media General, Hearst-Argyle, etc.) that do not generally correspond to the broadcast networks (NBC, CBS, ABC etc.) In any market, these all compete against each other and usually have little or no incentive to cooperate on sharing transmitter towers. Any "national transmitter plan" would probably be denounced as "socialistic" and "anti-business" and "un-American." rolleyes.gif

Even if all broadcasters wanted to use the same tower, it's not always possible. Unless it's just a few multi-frequency antennas installed on 1 tower, then several antennas on 1 tower puts unnecessary weight on it. You also have to factor in the channel spacing & how much power specific channels can go up to without interfering with co-channels & adjacent channels. Then you also have channels in a market that are licensed to a suburb that can't be located near all the other antennas, either because it wouldn't provide Grade A coverage over the COL, or that station is short-spaced with another station. In the analog days, UHF required stations to be 6 channels apart, which prevented some stations from locating near the rest of the other stations' antennas. I know in the Chicago market, WJYS 62 Hammond, IN & WYIN 56 Gary, IN could not locate in Chicago, due to then WEHS (now WXFT) 60 Aurora, IL already broadcasting off the Sears Tower in Chicago. For WJYS, there was also WGBO 66 Joliet, IL broadcasting off the John Hancock, that prevented WJYS from locating in Chicago. For WWTO 35 Lasalle, IL, not only being short-spaced with WFLD 32 & then WCFC (now WCPX) Chicago, but also, their COL (city of license) is nearly 80 miles from Chicago, & can't provide Grade A coverage over Lasalle, IL from Chicago. That still holds true today for WWTO in the digital era, even though they're now on RF 10. That station should really be licensed to the Peoria, IL market, as it's closer to Peoria than Chicago. WJYS now broadcasts from Chicago, while money prevented WYIN from locating their antenna in Chicago, but channel spacing is no longer an issue for them, should they ever earn enough money (not likely) to locate their antenna in Chicago.
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post #23 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 06:17 AM
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Originally Posted by dave73 View Post

Even if all broadcasters wanted to use the same tower, it's not always possible. Unless it's just a few multi-frequency antennas installed on 1 tower, then several antennas on 1 tower puts unnecessary weight on it. You also have to factor in the channel spacing & how much power specific channels can go up to without interfering with co-channels & adjacent channels. Then you also have channels in a market that are licensed to a suburb that can't be located near all the other antennas, either because it wouldn't provide Grade A coverage over the COL, or that station is short-spaced with another station. In the analog days, UHF required stations to be 6 channels apart, which prevented some stations from locating near the rest of the other stations' antennas. I know in the Chicago market, WJYS 62 Hammond, IN & WYIN 56 Gary, IN could not locate in Chicago, due to then WEHS (now WXFT) 60 Aurora, IL already broadcasting off the Sears Tower in Chicago. For WJYS, there was also WGBO 66 Joliet, IL broadcasting off the John Hancock, that prevented WJYS from locating in Chicago. For WWTO 35 Lasalle, IL, not only being short-spaced with WFLD 32 & then WCFC (now WCPX) Chicago, but also, their COL (city of license) is nearly 80 miles from Chicago, & can't provide Grade A coverage over Lasalle, IL from Chicago. That still holds true today for WWTO in the digital era, even though they're now on RF 10. That station should really be licensed to the Peoria, IL market, as it's closer to Peoria than Chicago. WJYS now broadcasts from Chicago, while money prevented WYIN from locating their antenna in Chicago, but channel spacing is no longer an issue for them, should they ever earn enough money (not likely) to locate their antenna in Chicago.

Yep - very different situation to the UK (and most of Europe).

Over here the transmitters are operated by a single company (Arqiva) and all transmitters are co-sited. Main sites carry 6 RF channels (PSB1-3 and COM1-3) - and smaller sites carry just the PSB1-3 muxes. Other countries, like Sweden, Norway etc. also use a similar model.

An example of the bigger towers is Crystal Palace - which serves London : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Palace_transmitting_station or Belmont : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Belmont_transmitting_station

However the big difference is that frequencies don't translate to stations 1:1.

ITV and Channel Four are separate broadcasters, but they multicast on the same mux on a single RF channel (PSB2) for their SD services. Commercial operators (i.e. not public service licensed broadcasters who used to have analogue services) rent a slot on a mux.

There is a single HD Mux (PSB3) which carries four (soon to be five) HD stations.

However the biggest difference appears to be that the UK transmitter plan (like most of Europe) is based around maximising coverage of national networks to the whole population, rather than dividing stations by town/city. Regional News coverage is dictated by transmitter coverage, not the other way round. However OTA is massively more popular in the UK (and some other parts of Europe) - so coverage is really important. We're also a tiny country! (And we haven't used VHF for TV since we switched off 405line B&W services in 1985 - so only have to worry about UHF.)
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post #24 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 06:27 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Cabal0 View Post

How are they making it hard for you?

Oh things like broadcasting at 1000 kW but using a directional antenna so the eff power is 50 kW thus making sure I don't get the station in. Or broadcasting at under 400 kW and having the antenna much too low on the tower. Things like that.
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post #25 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 06:31 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

That's the bottom liine. And, the lack of expertise/knowledge by the user. It's not a conspiracy or self-sabotage.

Well I can say after studying OTA TV for over 3 years know I doubt my issue is "lack of knowledge".
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post #26 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

Oh things like broadcasting at 1000 kW but using a directional antenna so the eff power is 50 kW thus making sure I don't get the station in. Or broadcasting at under 400 kW and having the antenna much too low on the tower. Things like that.
So business decisions in combination with the laws of physics? Some of those are flexible, some are not, I'm afraid.
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post #27 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

Oh things like broadcasting at 1000 kW but using a directional antenna so the eff power is 50 kW thus making sure I don't get the station in. Or broadcasting at under 400 kW and having the antenna much too low on the tower. Things like that.

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Originally Posted by BCF68 View Post

Well I can say after studying OTA TV for over 3 years know I doubt my issue is "lack of knowledge".
Yeah.... I guess they just singled your location and aimed the radiation pattern and/or mounted the x-mitter lower on the tower just to piss you off. biggrin.gif

I grew up with OTA from 1954 until 1982 when I finally could afford cable. When I purchased an HDTV in 2002, I had to revert back to OTA for HD programming. It was a lot of trial and error compared to the analog days. Three years of knowledge or 50 years of knowledge... the best recommendations for stable reception is a good traditional outdoor antenna aimed properly.

Again, it's not a self-sabotage or a conspiracy. It just may take a liitle more effort and finesse with 8VSB.
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post #28 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 09:33 AM
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Originally Posted by Ratman View Post

Three years of knowledge or 50 years of knowledge... the best recommendations for stable reception is a good traditional outdoor antenna aimed properly.
Again, it's not a self-sabotage or a conspiracy. It just may take a liitle more effort and finesse with 8VSB.

Yep - and it's a bit trickier to aim now you don't have analogue signals to look at from the same mast (optimising a digital-only signal a bit trickier - though if your receiver has error displays it can be easier)

This side of the pond rooftop aerials (antennae) are the norm - I've never lived in a house without a decent rooftop (or inside roofspace in one case) aerial. Rotators are unheard of in the UK (*) as we only ever have a single transmitter to point at.

(*) Very occasionally people install them if they live in range of two transmitters and want a choice of local news. In the 70s and 80s the ITV stations differed far more in programming terms so there was more reason to be able to chose between regional versions. These days they are identical apart from local news and commercials.
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post #29 of 54 Old 08-12-2012, 09:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sneals2000 View Post

This side of the pond rooftop aerials (antennae) are the norm - I've never lived in a house without a decent rooftop (or inside roofspace in one case) aerial. Rotators are unheard of in the UK (*) as we only ever have a single transmitter to point at.
(*) Very occasionally people install them if they live in range of two transmitters and want a choice of local news. In the 70s and 80s the ITV stations differed far more in programming terms so there was more reason to be able to chose between regional versions. These days they are identical apart from local news and commercials.
If I was forced into paying a TV license ("licence") fee, I'd make sure I got my money's worth, too. wink.gif
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If I was forced into paying a TV license ("licence") fee, I'd make sure I got my money's worth, too. wink.gif

Yep but nobody is forced into paying a TV Licence fee - if you don't want to pay it, don't buy a TV. rolleyes.gif (The UK is not unique in this regard - loads of countries have a TV Licence Fee - and quite a few charge a lot more than the UK)

Our 26 Olympic HD streams (BBC One, BBC Three + 24 Red Button streams), plus internet catch-up of any event, have cost us less than US$9. And you can receive OTA or on Satellite - both with zero subscription charges. (Free satellite is great!)
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