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Digital Transition Answers

Des Moines' WHO-TV Helps Viewers Pass Digital Test

August 25, 2008 10:01 AM

According to a press release from WHO-TV in Des Moines, Iowa, a test is being conducted from 5 a.m. until midnight today on broadcast analog channel 13.

During the test, a banner will be run about one-third of the way up the screen that will inform the viewer that the transition to digital broadcasting is coming. They will be instructed to tune to WHO-DT digital channel 13.1. For those who cannot tune in to the digital channel and, thus, fail the test, there will be information in the banner on what to do to make the transition.

"We feel it is important to help our viewers be as prepared as possible for this transition in television," said WHO Regional VP/General Manager Dale R. Woods. "We wanted a way to break through the clutter of informational messages and really target those people we know it will impact."

According to Mr. Woods, the idea was hatched about a month ago at a leadership meeting. "It is one way to help viewers understand how prepared they are," he added.

I would like to applaud the management at WHO-TV for thinking outside the box and coming up with a way that seems to be unique in getting the point across that this is coming whether we like it or not.

Of course, the two translator stations for WHO-TV, K27CV in Ottumwa and K66AL in Clarinda, will not be affected at this time because of their low-power status.


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Comments (10)

Mrs. Jim Jorgensen:

Since WHOTV has changed to digital, the TV band I get on my radio for your station will no longer come in. I still get it on KCCI-TV. Is this a permanate situation, and I will lose all stations on my radio TV band?

Connie Jorgensen:

Since you went on digital I have lost the TV band on my radio for your station.I still get KCCI TV. have I lost it for good now?

Fred Koch:

WHO told us on TV spots to rescan our DTV box after you went to digital bradcasting only.

I have a curious question about that:

I received a DTV box for Christmas. I use it for a small TV the we rarely use. When I hooked it up in December, I scanned the the box through the TV and was able to pick up all of the local digital signals including WHO channels 13.1 and 13.2. I turned the set on after WHO went to digital transmission only last week and could not get your digital channels but still was able to get the other local ones. I then rescanned the DTV box and was able to pick up your two channels again. Why was rescanning needed? I thought that since you were already broadcasting in digital using the same channels as before the 17th that the signal would not have gone away after you stopped the analog broadcasting. Just curious. Please explain. Thanks,

mary... the cat lady:

Hey Fred,
Don't confuse the "virtual channel" with the actual channel.
To help the public continue to find their favorite programming on the various network and independant stations across the country, the FCC in their infinite wisdom decided to brand whatever channel a station was broadcasting on the same as the original analog channel.
This is refered to as the "virtual channel".
WHO has traditionally been broadcasting for years on analog channel 13. When digital broadcasts were started, it would be immpossible to also continue analog broadcasts on VHF channel 13 and initiate digital broadcasts on channel 13 at the same time. So a temporary channel was issued to WHO on UHF channel 19 for digital broadcast purposes.
This is where the confusion comes into play. Although digital WHO was broadcasting on UHF channel 19, when you did a scan looking for channels, it logged into your digital tuners memory as WHO channel 13.1.
This is called mapping. You were really getting a UHF signal off of channel 19 for WHO, but it was labled as channel 13 on your tuner.
When WHO ended analog broadcasts on the 17th, they then started actually broadcasting their digital signal on VHF channel 13... their former analog channel.
Therefore, a re-scan was necessary to find the "new" channel that WHO was now broadcasting on.
For an example, our local channel 6, KFDM is actually broadcasting on UHF channel 21. This is where they are going to stay post transition. Yet, the digital tuners will continue to list it as KFDM-DT channel 6.1.
Our local channel 12 is digitally broadcasting on UHF channel 50. They will revert to channel 12 post transition. A re-scan will be necessary when the go back to channel 12 so the the tuner will know where to "look for" channel 12.
A lot of people have had trouble with this because they always were able to get "channel 13" before, and now they can't. Why not they ask? Well, it is because "channel 13 is actually broadcasting on channel 19, and is not actually "channel 13" anymore. All they had was a VHF antenna, and now they needed a UHF. It has been very confusing for the public.
However, if everything went right, people were able to bridge the changes of channels and still follow their favorite programs. If Lost was on channel 12, but now it is on channel 50, but after the transition it is going back to channel 12, it may have been even more confusing for the public. In that regard, I think it worked.
However, that being said, I think that after about six months post transition, a campaign should be made to align all stations with their final DTV channels. That is to say that our local channel 6, which will stay on UHF channnel 21, should be re-labled as KFDM-DT channel 21 from now on.
It is possible that at some time in the future, a television company could apply to broadcast on channel 6, and then what would happen? You would have a new TV station in a market that would actually be "KXXX-DT channel 6" and KFDM-DT still labeling itself as channel 6 because that was their former channel. More confusion still.

mary... the cat lady:

Hi Connie,
Sorry it had taken me so long to get back to you. The fault was on my end. I missed your posts.
If you were using a radio that was capable of recieving TV audio of channels 2 through 13, yes the audio for WHO is gone for good.
The TV band on the radio picked up the analog audio from the TV station just as your analog tuner did in your TV.
The audio was sent by an analog signal, and that signal has now been turned off.
KCCI must still be broadcasting in analog, and therefore you are still able to recieve the audio for that station.
At the end of the extension of the transition date, you will lose that station as well.
Such is the nature of switch to digital broadcasting. It is making more than analog televisions obsolete.

JD in the Quiet Corner:

"However, that being said, I think that after about six months post transition, a campaign should be made to align all stations with their final DTV channels. That is to say that our local channel 6, which will stay on UHF channnel 21, should be re-labled as KFDM-DT channel 21 from now on.
It is possible that at some time in the future, a television company could apply to broadcast on channel 6, and then what would happen? You would have a new TV station in a market that would actually be "KXXX-DT channel 6" and KFDM-DT still labeling itself as channel 6 because that was their former channel. More confusion still."

For the last year or more, I've noticed that stations in the markets around here emphasizing their call letters more than previously e.g. during newscasts, they'd say "WLNE 6" whereas before they'd say just the channel number. I don't know if that's their intention.... But, stations have put in so much over the years to establish their brand, which for most if not all, includes their analog channel numeral. Vouchsafe they're NOT going to give up part of that brand easily. In your "channel 6" situation, I imagine that the new station would be forced to bend over backwards --- be physical channel 6, but brand themselves with a number they pick out of a hat.

What you're saying makes perfect sense. It follows the KISS method of operation. But remember that the federal govt just plain hates operating in a way that makes sense. So, I don't see that happening.

mary... the cat lady:

Hey JD,
I hope things are good for you up in the quiet corner.
I understand fully the branding issue. It is just how long can you keep it up?
In the case of a new station coming along on channel 6, it would be part of their LEGAL ID. I just don't think that they could or would just yank a number out of thin air.
The issue actually affects two of our locals. KBTV channel 4 (now on 40) and KFDM channel 6.
Stations have switched channels in the past, and have overcome the branding issues. It just does not make sense to me to totally ignore the true channel until the cows come home. Especially when the station is now broadcasting in a completely different part of the TV spectrum. A station branded as a VHF station which is actuallly on the UHF band.
I believe that this issue would be the least of the problems associated with the transition to digital.
After the dust has settled, another educational campaign could be undertaken to re-educate the public. Nothing would need to be done on the publics part except to learn the new channel number. It is much like cable. People didn't seem to have any trouble at all learning that broadcast channel 4 was on cable channel 2. 6 was on 3 on cable. 12 was on 5. 34 was on 16 and 64 was on 11.
I think it is a no-brainer, but like you said in your post, we probably won't see it happening...

mary... the cat lady:

So, what are you saying JD? The federal government likes to complicate things? Egad. Perish the thought... There' been no history of that, has there?


I would say that it's somewhat complicated for some folks now. Imagine when they have to totally rescan, for station moving back to the OLD station numbers.

Right now, I look at the confusion similar to getting cable. You never know what stations are going to be on what channel...and periodically get moved. For example, WHO is on 19, from 13. Now take when WHO goes back to 13, only using 36,000 watts, for digital. My WTVG 13/19/13 is the exact same instance as WHO on this.

People are already confused as to why they need to scan...which nobody is telling them why. Then they are rescanning, which makes the confused wonder again... why?

I'll agree, the government is making things too complicated. I really think that one station number change was enough.

Luckily, some stations are only using their call letters... and all together avoiding the "numbers" game that the FCC wants to play. Some are also using a name... such as "Central Iowa's WB." This helps to avoid too many changes... which is confusing.

Another local example... WGTE - 30/29 in Toledo, Ohio was showing us on a "Legal ID" (Call letters and city of license... not city of the tower or the office/studio locale), 29.3. The FCC thought it was confusing to see this. It was.

Why was WGTE analog showing us 29.3? Why was it not 29.1? Why am I watching analog 29.3, when it used to be 30? Too many questions popped up.

They, WGTE Toledo, immediately stopped showing the "disco ball" Legal ID... and skipped the "29.x." The only brand themselves as "WGTE -Toledo." This avoids confusion and legally identifies the station, in 1 shot.


Another thought...

I also see some confusion in Lansing, MI... with what was "ABC53." Now ABC 53 isn't that at all. They are "ABC3" and "CW5" on the secondary subchannel. This in itself offers more confusion... since WLAJ chose to go with cable allotments, rather than go with station call letters or the old number. This is offering a new layer of confusion.

I also see the same exact thing with Cornerstone Church's, AKA., Matrix Broadcasting, (Maumee, Ohio) "My 58 - WMNT"... which is actually OTA 48 and cable 58.

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