DTV: What if I live in a rural area, with dodgy reception?

By law, all broadcast TV stations are supposed to have set up their new digital TV signals to match the coverage area of their old analog antennas. That means that if you are able to watch a channel before the DTV switch, you should still be able to pick it up after the switch (provided you have installed a DTV converter box or a digital-ready TV, of course). If you have trouble with receiving a channel before the switch, you may have trouble afterwards as well.

If you have poor reception of a channel, you may experience the "digital cliff" effect. Before digital TV, less-than-perfect reception might have meant a slightly fuzzy picture, or good sound with bad picture quality. With digital TV, the situation will be different; slightly poor reception will cause the get you a blank screen instead of a fuzzy picture

It's impossible to generalize with any certainly what kind of reception you will get with DTV on any given channel, however – especially if you live far away from the transmitter. Some stations may come in fine, while others may appear intermittently or not at all – at least at first.

When setting up your DTV converter box or digital-ready TV, experiment with antenna placement. Make sure your antenna includes both VHF ("rabbit-ears") and a UHF (loop) elements, since most digital TV signals are on UHF. If your indoor antenna cannot pick up all your local stations, it may even be necessary to install a more powerful rooftop antenna.

Finally, consult your neighbors who also get their television over the air – they're also making this switch, and you can benefit from each others' experiences.


Antenna information

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