Digital Conversion Causes Confusion Among Local Residents

By: Kristen Ross Email
By: Kristen Ross Email

With three weeks left before the nation-wide switch from analog to digital TV, the Obama administration wants to postpone the conversion because of a shortage of converter box coupons.

But even if the date is moved, it won't have much of a local impact since News Three already made the switch last week in accordance with the original time-line.

Even so, some local residents are still scrambling to get tuned in, as the big switch is creating a lot of confusion.

To put it in perspective, just in the last few weeks KBTX has received more than 800 phone calls at our studios, with people asking about the switch-over, about the signal, or why they can't see the evening news anymore.

But in general, many people still seem to be having problems figuring out how to make their converter box work.

"We started last fall when we heard there was going to be a change," College Station Resident Gail Griffin said. "We did get the coupons, and did purchase the boxes, but we did not actually install them until this past weekend."

Like many people, Gail Griffin thought her TVs were all set for the big switch from analog to digital television.

"The setup was ok," Griffin said.

But when Griffin flipped on the TV, the words "NO SIGNAL" is all that appeared.

"The frustrating part came when it didn't work, we weren't receiving KBTX," Griffin said. "I couldn't figure out why it wasn't working."

So we enlisted the help of our Chief Engineer Kris Swearingen, to help clear up some of the confusion.

To find the root of Griffin's TV troubles, it takes multiple TVs, and trips back and forth between her home and guest house.

What we found first is a common problem.

"If you look at the rabbit ears right here, these are VHF and you need to have a loop antenna," Swearingen said. "The one with a circle on it."

But even after we hook up the proper antenna, the digital signal is still weak. Another trip outside reveals the source of the problem-- a metal roof.

"It will block the signals if you use an inside antenna," Swearingen said. "We can try going out the window and see what happens."

After setting up the antenna just outside the kitchen window...

"Looky there, 3.1," Swearingen said. "Oh how about that, so it is my roof," Griffin said.

"I guess I really feel sorry for the tremendously elderly people because the change to hook it up, I hope they have a daughter, or son, or neighbor that can help them out," Griffin said.

Now if you're getting us on your TV through a converter box but the signal is weak, that's only temporary. If you have friends or relatives that used to see KBTX but now don't, we need you to pass along this message.

Right now our digital signal is still not broadcasting at full power and within the next couple of weeks we hope to have that fully up and running. Then frequency you're watching us on will be stronger than ever.

If you, or someone you know, is still in need of a converter box, stores like Best Buy say they have plenty of them to go around.

The box will run you between $50 to $60, but you need to double check your coupon before heading to the store. That's because the College Station branch says they can not accept expired coupons for the converter box.


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