TV viewers get more choices from digitalLocal viewers receiving television programs free via over-the-air signals have hit the “mother lode.” The number of over-the-air channels in the Duluth-Superior market has more than doubled in the last few months.
By: Ralph Doty, Budgeteer News
Local viewers receiving television programs free via over-the-air signals have hit the “mother lode.”
The number of over-the-air channels in the Duluth-Superior market has more than doubled, thanks to a federal mandate that all TV stations stop using analog signals and transmit by digital signals no later than June 12.
Most Twin Ports television outlets have already made the switch.
More TV stations are being put on the air because digital TV is more efficient than the current analog system.
As a result, most anchor stations have enough digital spectrum to offer up to four digital TV stations, using the same amount of spectrum required for one analog program.
From only one TV station in 1952 (WFTV - Channel 38), area residents can now receive a dozen stations without subscribing to cable or satellite services.
Following is the line-up of area television stations and comments about their programming, using information provided to the Budgeteer News by the general managers of the five so-called “anchor stations,” Channels 3, 6, 8, 10 and 21:
• 3 KDLH/CBS: Regular CBS programming. General manager: Dave Jensch.
• 3.2 Northland CW: A merger of the former WB and UPN networks, carrying 20-something soaps like “Beverly Hills 90210” and new hits such as “Gossip Girl.”
• 6.1 KBJR/NBC: Regular NBC programming. General manager: Dave Jensch.
• 6.2 My9: Programming from My9, a start-up network owned by 20th Century Fox. Shows include “World Wrestling Entertainment,” Minnesota Wild hockey, state high school tournaments and local sports.
• 6.3 News Now: 24-hour news and weather.
• 8.1 WISE/PBS: Regular PBS and local programming. General manager: Allen Harmon.
• 8.2 All PBS: Children’s programming on weekdays; “Nightly Business Report” at 5:30 p.m.; and prime time PBS programming in high definition. Late night includes Charlie Rose and other programs not available on 8.1.
• 8.3 Our Create!: Best of PBS’s “how to” programming (travel, cooking, arts, crafts, gardening, home repair, etc.).
• 8.4 Our Minnesota Channel: Offerings include stories about Minnesota, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska and live coverage of the Minnesota Legislature, including committee hearings and Senate and House sessions.
• 10.1 WDIO/ABC: Regular ABC programming. General manager: George Couture.
• 10.2 Retro Television Network: The best of former TV hits, such as “McHale’s Navy,” “Bachelor Father,” “Leave It to Beaver,” “Marcus Welby, MD,” “Kojak,” “The Incredible Hulk,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “Dragnet” and “Emergency!”
• 21.1 KQDS/Fox: Regular Fox programming. General manager: David Hileman.
Hileman said their station is weighing its options on alternate programming: “We want to make sure that it is programming that is desirable to our viewers and not just programming for programming’s sake,” he said.
Even with the excitement of many new channels, local TV anchor stations face challenges.
Word from Granite Communications, owner of KBJR Channel 6 and operator of KDLH Channel 3, is that both channels will experience multiple outages in mid-June before the mandated change from analog to digital. General Manager Dave Jensch said the stations will put up new permanent antennas at that time.
While that’s taking place, Jensch said that “both stations will be broadcasting from temporary side-mount antennas, which will adversely impact over-the-air homes more than 25 miles from the antenna.”
He added that cable and satellite homes won’t be impacted by the disruptions.
Even now, some viewers — mostly in outlying areas — are struggling to receive clear digital TV signals. Many homes have inadequate antennas to receive the less-powerful digital signals, and some digital signals encounter interference problems.
Finally, anyone who has not yet purchased a DTV converter box for an analog television can still tap into a government program for coupons that will help defray the cost. To find out more, go online to www.dtv2009.gov.