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TV is going digital... finally. Too bad there's nothing new to watch

by Joel Keller, posted Jun 12th 2009 12:27PM
DTV logoWell, after announcements, commercials, and delays which generated more announcements and commercials, broadcast TV is finally being dragged into the 21st century at 12:30 pm today. That's when channels all across the country shut off their analog signals and just broadcast digitally. If you're still one of the multitudes who use an antenna and did not prepare for the transition by buying a converter -- and, according to Nielsen, 2.8 million people still aren't ready -- you'd better run out and get one now or else you're just going to see snow.

For those of you who have already made the transition, you'll notice that there are some extra channels on your TV, maybe with names like 2.1 or 2-1 or 12.13 or 13-12 or whatever. Some channels have taken advantage of the extra bandwidth DTV allows by broadcasting extra channels of specialized content. But are they worth watching? At this point, not really.

I can only go by what I've seen in the New York area, but right now it looks like the various broadcast channels are spending their extra DTV bandwidth on the same filler you see on cable. One or two of them have Spanish-language channels, which are useful, but the programming on them seems to be mostly informational shows. The ABC affiliate here has an HD channel called Live Well that's full of programming that's shot on the cheap and doesn't seem much different than those infomercials-disguised-as-pledge-programming you see on PBS. Other channels have a constant news or weather stream, which is also useful but not exactly compelling.

So, what kind of programming would you rather see on the extra digital channels going forward? I'd like to see more sports coverage, but that's just me; I can't get enough TV sports, to be honest. I also wouldn't mind a channel that shows the old reruns that TV Land used to show before it got taken over by reality shows.

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Diann Senick

We get so many stations, but nothing fit to watch. Reality shows that have nothing to do with reality, and who cares about people that raise 19 kids. These programs that sell everything inthe world (which do not work). Wife swapping is really a good example for our children, as are all the nudity and blood and guts in most movies and don't forget the re-runs of the re-runs. I too have often turned off my t.v. because there is nothing interesting to watch.

July 12 2009 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Vadu

I would like to see a business channel like CNBC on a sub-channel. Better yet, why doesn't NBC put CNBC and MSNBC on it's sub-channels? I suppose they could. But as long as people pay for TV, there will never be an incentive to do that.

June 16 2009 at 9:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

We have existing antennas on the roof (both UHF and VHF) here in Poughkeepsie, NY (70 miles north of Manhattan) that have served us for more than 25 years. Generally, the DTV transition turned out to be a net loss (we received more analog stations in pre-transition era). I did re-scan after June 12th. I did check if I have both VHF and UHF antennas (we have both on the roof connected to a preamp). I did check if all my antenna wiring and connectors are on securely and connected properly. In the New York Market, we lost WNET, WPIX, WABC, WCBS, WNBC, WPXN, WNYE and gained WFUT. We still get WNYW and WWOR (though WNYW's sub channel). This is very disappointing. I was expecting that the VHF antenna would have pulled in WABC, WPIX and WNET when they returned to VHF. Replacing the TV antennas on the roof is troublesome and (if we hired a professional installer to replace them) expensive.

June 13 2009 at 6:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Wolfster

This is why I got the converter box to begin with. I got tired of paying high cable bills so I could watch one damned infomercial after another, with maybe 3 decent shows of original programming, again crammed with commercials.

June 13 2009 at 1:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Lady Olivier

I turned my set off last night and gave up on tv. I had a digital box but couldn't get it to work with my atenna, bought a new smart antenna it didn't want to work either( I live in rural mountains)so my housemates and I were like "So long free tv!" and vowed to watch dvds and tv on the internet. In a big "d'oh" moment this morning, found out my house mate's 2004 box tv had a digital tuner installed! So I paid for a box converter I didn't need( that still doesn't work right)! With all the info out there it made me think my tv was too old- how many people bought something they didn't need? Well I now get 3 channels instead of one so that's cool.

June 12 2009 at 4:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

Our local ABC station is running their news program on a loop 24 hours a day on a sub-channel, so if I feel like watching the local news I don't have to be around at 6pm. I'd love it if the networks allowed their affiliates to rebroadcast primetime programming at alternate hours/days on a sub-channel. It would certainly help smaller shows attract more viewers, as well as encourage more tv viewership in general.

June 12 2009 at 2:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chris

This really angers me that as soon as the switch occurs I finally get the CW digital channel, they cancel Reaper.

June 12 2009 at 2:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jeff N.

The Local Raleigh/Durham local channels were blank on DirecTV for about 40 minutes after the analog shut off at 12:55PM. They are now back on the air.

June 12 2009 at 1:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tom

Hey at least you have some content on your set to watch. I live in NYC and my _____ of a landlord won't let me put an antenna on the roof. So I'm stuck with a set-top antenna. I installed the digital box a week ago, and lost 75% of the normal television channels. But the channel which broadcasts pictures of various highways and Manhattan streets comes in perfectly--of course. And I'm sure I can't be the only one this is going to happen to. What are advertisers and the broadcast channels going to do when they find out that they've lost a significant portion of their viewing audience NOT because they're lazy and didn't prepare for the changeover to digital, but that the digital technology simply doesn't work in some cases!

And they wonder why people are illegally downloading shows from the web!

June 12 2009 at 1:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Chrysee

Our NBC here in Columbus has a retro channel now and CBS is adding something but I don't know what yet, they haven't turned it on. FOX here turned off their analog signal back in February.

June 12 2009 at 1:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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