DTV leaves some blank

Published 9:11 pm Monday, February 16, 2009

The digital TV switch is here, at least part one of it. Today is the day that the federal government originally mandated that all television stations switch from analog signals to digital signals.

Though that date has been moved to June, many stations, including most of those in Birmingham and Montgomery, are turning off their analog signals today. All of the other stations will be switching at the new deadline.

If you haven’t prepared, then you will not be able to watch most television programming from now on. The first step to make the transition is to purchase a digital converter box or a digital TV, and then comes the difficult part — getting a good signal.

In Chilton County, the change is going to be much more difficult than in big cities where the digital signals originate. Rabbit ears alone might not allow you to see the programming that you’re used to watching. You might have to purchase a better antenna or consider other ways to get programming.

The digital switch is likely going to hurt those who don’t have cable or satellite because our digital reception in Chilton County is sporadic at best. In some areas, people can pick up every digital station, but in other areas, almost no channels can be seen.

To ensure that you get good TV reception, you might have to resort to subscribing to cable or satellite if you want to continue watching all the “free TV” stations. “Free TV” is becoming a thing of the past — at least here.

The good news is that TV won’t have snow or fuzzy pictures anymore. All of the signals, if they come in, will look as clear here as they do if you live in Birmingham. The only thing you might get is a lag or screening effect when the signal gets weak. Other than that, digital pictures are much clearer than your regular analog signal.

The digital conversion would be a good thing if all of Chilton County actually received good signals.