Monday, February 16, 2009

The Revolution is Beginning

I'd have to go back and look at my work records to figure out when I started having to deal with the digital transition. It seems like it's been years, but it's probably only been one.

During that time, I have written articles, given interviews and made sure our station has met every requirement the FCC handed down about educating the public in our viewing area as to what they needed to do to be ready when the analog signals were shut off on February 17th.

In addition to that, we've had an "HD transition" which has been mostly invisible to viewers, but a royal pain in the neck for stations. Because PBS stations aren't standardized in their equipment, each station has to figure out how to make all their various machines talk to each other, how to find which transponder we're looking for, how to handle the picture and audio signals and make them viewable to both analog and digital viewers.

After a year or so of dealing with all of this on a professional level, Darling Man and I joined in on a personal level.

We bought our converter box.

Most of our television viewing happens off satellite (which is digital). But we can't receive local channels where we live because a great big tree blocks our dish's reception of the local transponder. So we live without local channels - weird because there's no way to monitor our own signal when we're at home. Darling Man absolutely refuses to get cable for the gap. We've had this little tv in our room that wears bunny ears and every once in a while there's a football or basketball game that only airs locally so he messes around with the antenna, sometimes adding foil or lifting it up on a higher shelf so that he can watch a snowy picture of our local FOX affilliate.

This past weekend, there was a basketball game he really wanted to watch, but when he went upstairs, discovered that FOX was no more on the analog airwaves. I was dispatched hastily to Radio Shack to purchase a converter box, which I brought home, handed to DM and left him alone to figure it out while I went grocery shopping.

I won't say that there were great wails of despair when FOX still couldn't be tuned in. Perhaps a rather dismayed shake of the head. He put on his earphones and tuned it in on the radio. At least he could still wash dishes that way. As it turns out, it was an awful game and he was rather relieved that he didn't have to watch the carnage.

Looks like we'll need an outdoor antenna to receive FOX. The next day, DM pushed some button that scanned available signals and got all kinds of cool stuff - except FOX which was a pixilated mess.

If you have cable or satellite (with local stations) count yourself lucky. Both DM and I work for the PBS station - me in promotions, him in an engineering-type funtion. We are people in the know and we still managed to bollocks it up. Not badly, but enough for me to realize that all of this is probably impenetrable to people who haven't got a clue.

Folks in our area better get a clue fast, for tomorrow at midnight, we are shutting down our analog signal. Yes, the official shut-off date was moved to June 12th. But stations have the option of turning it off early - and we are going to do it tomorrow. I, for one, am very glad. You cannot believe the amount of paperwork (on a daily basis) that is required prior to the transition. But once your analog signal goes dark, there is but one more report to do.

Of course, managing everything from the digital side has it's own set of challenges - which I've been finding out about today.

At least it will keep me employed for a while.


nikki said...

Thank God I have cable. That is all.

SophieMae said...

We've long since cancelled our satellite service. And cable, last I heard, doesn't reach our boonies. Besides, it's so expensive for very casual viewers. I did get a small digital tv last year and have gone round and round with the antenna thing. If you set it to get PBS, the other channels are wonky... and vice versa. And both Fox channels seem to totally die on occasion. As for the superiority of digital... it goes all pixelated whenever someone uses a cell phone in the house. Or when someone in the neighbourhood plays with his ham radio. Or when Duller stands in a certain spot. Or when my favourite show, which I've been looking forward to for weeks, reaches its climax. (Are we having fun yet?)

Speaking of PBS, any way we can get Create to air beyond 6PM? 8-}

margaret (the misanthrope) said...

Wow, Sayre! How interesting that you can get all the satellite channels, but can't get the local news! And I'll bet this whole DTV and HD switch drama has been trying for you, personally and professionally.

I wonder which was worse: the Y2K drama, or the digital switch?

But hooray for job security, I guess, right? *eyeroll* Hugs to you!

Swampy at home but not for long said...

...and speaking of daughter and her husband in Oklahoma, whose favorite shows are on Fox, came home to realize that their Cableone had opted not to carry Fox anymore...just out of the warning...just no Fox. So, she immediately called another company and that day switched their cable, telephone, and Internet to them.

Who knew that this digital switchover would cause more of a problem than the Y2K?

Am still going to post "us"...just still in a whirlwind and planning another trip as we speak.

Anonymous said...

I only have a TV for storms and hurricanes, but when I need it, I really need it. So when the local affiliates announced that they would go ahead with the earlier date, I went to get my box.
I truly looked like the old lady in the YouTube segment. Daa had to hook it up and it still doesn't get the local channel.