AVS Forum banner
Status
Not open for further replies.
1 - 20 of 26 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,225 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I don't know if Chicago is typical of the rest of the country but if we're like the rest of the country the conversion to DTV is going to by bumpy.


In the past few months we've had stations down for multiple days, in some cases the local engineering staff didn't even know it when I called it in as a problem. And I'm not talking about the small mom and pop station but the major O&O's. Example, yesterday our local ABC station has a problem where either folks are getting audio but no video, or the video is blocky, blurry or locks up. NBC was down for an entire weekend due to their encoder going out of spec. Earlier this week their PSIP generator went out so everyone had to tune into the 'real' channel number vs. the virtual channel, then re-add them on their STB's once the PSIP came back on line. Our UPN station was down for days due to a bad PSIP generator. Our CBS station has never made it to full power and is on a temporary antenna and folks out in the collar counties have a very hard time pulling them in. Fox has had encoding problems where some STB's could get their signal, others couldn't. And these are not 'one time' problems but in some cases have happened two or three or more times.


I'm sure that many of us have learned to put up with this garbage but will the general public? I look at what would happen if my 76 year old mother had a DTV setup. She tunes in the Price is Right or Wheel of Fortune and gets nothing, I'd be getting a phone call from her, what do I do, I can't watch my favorite shows. Before DTV I'd never had called a TV station before, now I'm starting to learn the names of the engineering staff and trade e-mails with them.


I know that NTSC is the money maker and DTV is just a pit that they're throwing money into with no current return. However, the government has mandated that we all have to switch to DTV and the stations MUST start treating their DTV infrastructure just like their NTSC else the public will use that as another reason for not spending the money to make the switch.


What are your thoughts? Does the FCC need to start to mandate availability requirements for DTV to help push this transition along?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,080 Posts
Here in the Seattle area each of the DTV stations is experiencing growing pains similar to those you described. But, we have been lucky with very little downtime and fairly consistent performance.


Most of our difficulties occur when the stations are adding or upgrading features and/or equipment (e.g., to support closed captioing in the digital world). I too have had regular communications with several station engineers and technicians. I try to be objective and constructive in a role of a viewer/monitor, reporting what I see and hear--both good and bad.


Another area of local difficulty is PSIP data, especially attempts to provide OTA PSIP-based program guide data. Successes in this area have pointed out siginificant deficiencies in many receiver models' ability to receive and display PSIP OTA guide data. For example, the Hughes E86 receiver (and its Toshiba and Mitsubishi cousins) do not suppport PSIP OTA guide data at all!


Audio seems to be the biggest challenge for DTV around here. Audio levels (volume) vary greatly from station to station. Audio synchronization with video can be difficult. Only one station here properly encodes their Dolby Digital 2.0 audio with the matrix-encoded surround flag to allow digital A/V receivers to automatically provide surround sound (Dolby Pro Logic II) that is equivalent to the audio provided with their analog (NTSC) signals.


In all, I think things are progressing as well as can be expected, given the learning curve for these analog transmission experts having to understand and support the digital world and all of the table entries that control options for PSIP and more. At the same time, these stations are downsizing their technical staffs. They cannot afford to buy all of the equipment needed to automate DTV to the same level as their analog/NTSC world, so master control operators have to manually switch feeds and audio modes at precise times (e.g., as they switch between network and local programming).


I do not work for any TV station, but I do have enough electronic and telecommunications knowledge to appreciate what these folks are dealing with. The individual engineers and technicians I have dealt with have been very receptive to constructive and polite feedback. They have corrected every problem possible within their limited means, and have explained why some cannot be fixed for now.


Personally, I am impressed with what the technical folks have accomplished. I am frustrated that limited funding has held them back. Actually, in some cases, even when monies are available, equipment manufacturers are having a tough time building and delivering sufficient quantities of needed equipment for this relatively small customer base of DTV transmitting stations.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
11,870 Posts
IMO, I get the feeling that some of our local broadcasters do not take the digital broadcasts seriously yet. CBS and NBC seem to but the others come across as if they could care less. This is based on conversations I have had with local master control Engineers.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
509 Posts
Ditto for Columbus, OH. Our ABC cut power with no notice to antenna users while they supposedly upgrade to DTV. It's been 3 weeks now...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
729 Posts
Neilsen has yet to begin tracking DTV viewers. So, from an advertising standpoint, we don't exist. I often tell friends who visit, "You know, we're actually not watching this show..." and explain the situation.


No station will tolerate their NTSC signal being off the air for any amount of time, and for most broadcasters that commitment is not quite there for ATSC yet. That day will come, but it's going to be awhile, and until then we're just going to have to deal with growing pains. That's just how it is.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,098 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by Budget_HT
For example, the Hughes E86 receiver (and its Toshiba and Mitsubishi cousins) do not suppport PSIP OTA guide data at all!
To quote a design engineer who has worked on one of the more popular

STB's..That's a DirecTv issue, they require use of APG and not OTA PSIP..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
509 Posts
As I said above, ABC cut its ota ntsc signal. Of course, that doesn't mean there was any loss for cable customers. We antenna customers are an inconsequential lot...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,080 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by bdfox18doe
To quote a design engineer who has worked on one of the more popular

STB's..That's a DirecTv issue, they require use of APG and not OTA PSIP..
I am painfully aware of the DirecTV stance on APG. I have spent considerable effort trying to get them to add and correct APG data for our local DTV stations, some of which were already providing OTA PSIP data. It seems that no one at DirecTV steps up to the responsibility of maintaining their databases, even after customers have gone to zap2it/TMS to start the process themselves.


Since they chose to limit the capabilities of the tuners to their proprietary guide, they'd best keep up with the times. I won't hesitate to write them again (and often) when things are amiss for our area OTA DTV stations.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,880 Posts
Quote:
Originally posted by Budget_HT
... Since they [DirecTV] chose to limit the capabilities of the tuners to their proprietary guide, they'd best keep up with the times.
Not all DirecTV/OTA STBs get their guide solely from DirecTV.


The Samsung TS160 gets guide info from DirecTV. However, if a OTA digital channel is missing from their database, the TS160 looks at PSIP info broadcast by the local station.


I have one local OTA digital that is not in DirecTV's APG info. If I disconnect the antenna and reboot the receiver, the guide for that channel says "Regular Schedule", because D* is not providing APG for that channel. If I reconnect the antenna and reboot, the guide info returns (via PSIP).


I can also change the TS160 to "no dish" in setup/installation and still get full guide info from locals that provide it in PSIP.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10 Posts
Charlotte's analog WCNC has always broadcast on UHF 36, but has been on cable systems as channel 6 for years. They call themselves NBC6, if you have always had cable you would never know they were really 36. I have the Samsung TS160, if I use Directv's guide their digital channel (22) shows 36-1. If I don't use Directv's guide it shows 6-1 with no program information. I think WCNC needs to talk to Directv to list them as 6-1.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,225 Posts
Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Based on the lack of response to this thread then I guess I'm just being over critical about DTV stations going off the air for days at a time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
680 Posts
I don't think you're being over critical at all rad. Everything you stated in the initial post is true here in Chicagoland. I've sent e-mails to many of the stations when there are problems, sometimes I get a thank you for you interest reply and often times no reply. The exception being WGN-DT they seem very interested in keeping their dtv signal up and trouble free. WMAQ and WLS-DT never even seem to know when they are off the air or broadcasting with a problem until someone contacts them, then it can take 2 or 3 days for them to even care enough to fix the problems. WBBM does a great job of "throwing the switch" too bad only a handful of us can get their signal ( I haven't been able to watch them for over a month now).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,098 Posts
I think what RAD may be seeing is Atypical. Here in Charlotte, there are

9 DTv stations on-air, and seldom if ever are any off the air..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
10,880 Posts
As of a week ago, our local ABC affiliate (KATV) still didn't even have a 16:9 monitor in the station's control room, according to an engineer! Only 16:9 monitor they had was at the xmitter, 20 miles away.


They were stretching 4:3 to 16:9; weren't aware of it, and didn't know how to fix the problem for weeks. They don't know how to setup PSIP, either. Typical Allbritton station...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,303 Posts
Here in Dallas-Fort Worth, the major stations are generally pretty reliable about staying on the air and providing viewable picture and sound (at least when received with my Toshiba DST3000). Some of the smaller stations (notably KFWD-DT) seem to have had more problems -- that station was transmitting a "blank" signal for weeks until I mentioned it to an engineer at a competing station, who mentioned it to their engineer.


Where I do see problems locally is with switching between HD and SD programming -- I've seen both our ABC and NBC affiliates forget to throw the switch for HD programs, and our local WB affiliate was having some problems with that for a while, as well. Now the WB station has gotten pretty good at throwing the switch at the beginning of their HD shows, but sometimes "forgets" to switch in and out of local commercials.


The situation in Dallas-Fort Worth may be better than in many major markets because I think that the local broadcasters here do not treat OTA viewers as an afterthought -- as is the case in so many other cities. With cable penetration running at roughly 50%, they can't afford to ignore OTA here...


To some extent, I think that these growing pains are inevitable -- and I don't think that the stations should be judged to harshly as long as they do make an effort and improve their performance in reasonable time frame.


And in fairness, the transition to color wasn't always smooth, either -- I remember seeing some pretty messed up color on the two Tacoma (WA) independents in the early seventies at times.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,058 Posts
There have been glitches here in Champaign IL, but except for

our ABC station .... which is the only one transmitting HDTV, they

seem to have been totally fixed.


The ABC station still has glitches when switching from SD to HD ...

last night 8 Simple Rules lacked sound, for instance. The chief enginer

there, however, seems to be very sharp and they've gotten problems

fixed. Except, perhaps, I can't test it, Dolby 5.1 ... which they have

equipment for.


Doug McDonald
 

·
Registered
LG 55" C9 OLED, Yamaha RX-A660, Monoprice 5.1.2 Speakers, WMC HTPC, TiVo Bolt, X1
Joined
·
45,646 Posts
It's not a question of if their up to it or not. Let's just say it's not their top priority, for understandable reasons.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,225 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Quote:
Originally posted by Ken H
It's not a question of if their up to it or not. Let's just say it's not their top priority, for understandable reasons.
Sounds like you're saying that this is the problem that HDTV has had from the beginning. Nobody will buy sets because there's no content. Content providers won't do HDTV because there's no sets. OK, now there's content and people are buying sets. But now it's OK if a digital station goes down for days and the station doesn't even know about it until someone finally can get through to the station on Monday morning to let them know? The FCC has no rules/regulations about the hours of availability of a digital station?


I'm not saying that it has to be their top priority, I fully understand that NTSC still pays the bills. My point is that many stations in Chicago at least are treating it like a hobby because they think nobody's watching it. If the stations want good word of mouth so that the current owners can get their friends eager to go digital they must do a better job of keeping their signal up and running. Right now I have to honestly tell folks that when it works it's great but don't count on being able to watch that show in HDTV because the guy in master control might just forget to flip a switch or the encoder went out of wack but the didn't notice because nobody was monitoring the DTV station.
 

·
Registered
LG 55" C9 OLED, Yamaha RX-A660, Monoprice 5.1.2 Speakers, WMC HTPC, TiVo Bolt, X1
Joined
·
45,646 Posts
I agree with you.
 
1 - 20 of 26 Posts
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top