Why you might be having troubles with your television signal

On Monday June 4th, all Utah Broadcasters will be reducing the power of their signal transmission as we begin work on the federally mandated channel “re-pack”.  This is a process which will be taking place for the next 10 years, all over the United States, as all TV stations are required to switch their signals to new transmitters, and many will have new channel positions.  There could also be some radio stations affected as they have to go to lower power on shared platforms with TV stations.

Utah is in the first group of markets to make this change.  Each of the TV stations will be moving to new transmitters, which is why we must reduce power as we work from back-up transmitters and power.  This will start June 4th, 2018 and continue through our expected end-date of September 9th.

If you are receiving signal through over-the-air antennae’s, either in your home or on your roof, there is a chance your service can be impaired during this work and change over.  In addition, because Utah relies on the largest network of translators in the United State (778 = 1/3 of total U.S. Translators) to carry all TV signals, including our KUED and our other PBS stations to areas beyond the reach of full-power translators, there could be issues in our more remote and outlying areas, including areas shielded by topography from receiving signals from transmitter or translators.  We also have many small cable systems fed by these same translators, but most of which have put plans in place to receive their signals, (by improving their reception antennas). 

All emergency systems and medical providers have been notified of the signal changes and will be prepared for potential interference prior to the channel changes.  (We are following all the FCC required notifications)

We apologize for any inconvenience this federally mandated change-over to our new transmitter might cause you during this period of time when we are required to operate a reduced power level.

Here are some questions viewers might have with the accompanying answers:

Q: I rescanned to receive a channel that moved frequencies. I don't get that channel anymore, and I lost some multicast channels, too.

A small number of stations that are moving frequencies now transmit from different towers as part of a process called "channel sharing."

In some cases, this means the station's signal strength (and by extension its coverage area) may have changed. The station may broadcast to a larger or smaller audience based upon the signal strength at its new location. As a result, if you rescan your television – and you have exhausted all other troubleshooting options – the signal where you live may be too weak for you to receive with your equipment. This may also impact multicast channels (channels with numbers like 18.2, 18.3, etc.). To find out if you can receive a certain station, a good place to visit is rabbitears.info:

  • Under the Web Listings section, enter the call sign of the station you're looking for.
  • From the list of results displayed under that callsign, select the Technical Data link, and then select the DTV-LIC link.
  • From here, you'll see a coverage area map. This map will let you know whether you live inside the receivable radius of a particular station's signal. If you live in a yellow or red area within the radius, you may need to upgrade or reposition your antenna to receive the signal.

Q: I was told I would not need to get new equipment, but now am told I may need a new antenna. Why?

While rare, there are two circumstances in which an antenna viewer may need to purchase new equipment:

  • A station moving frequencies is also moving frequency types – from UHF to VHF. 
    • This does not apply to any of the stations in Utah-all will be UHF.
  • A station has moved its transmission location, and a viewer lives at the edge of that station's new coverage area.
    • In this circumstance, if a station moves its transmission to a new location and a viewer lives near the edge of the station's coverage area, that viewer may need an amplified antenna, or an amplifier, for the existing antenna, or in some cases a more powerful and/or roof-mounted antenna, to pick up the station's new signal.  For most of over-the-air TV antenna viewers, however, no new equipment will be necessary.

Q: I have lost multicast channels after rescanning. Have these channels gone off the air?

Viewers are encouraged to check with their local stations regarding multicast channel programming if, after rescanning, they encounter problems receiving multicast channels but are still receiving the main channel.

Q: The station I watch is now broadcasting from a weaker signal, and I'm having trouble receiving it with my indoor antenna. What do I do?

So long as you remain within the receivable margins of a station's coverage area, you may simply need to adjust the position of your indoor antenna. We recommend moving your antenna closer to a window – ideally a window facing the direction from which a station's signal is being transmitted. And, if your antenna has a telescoping stick, make sure it is extended. Even in cases where a station's new signal is weaker, the strength is expected to remain sufficient for indoor antenna reception. If that doesn't work, you may need to install a larger antenna in your attic or on your roof.

Q: Is it true that most Broadcast TV station are also carrying additional over-the-air sub-channels or networks?

Yes, that is true. Almost every broadcast TV station is also carrying additional channels of programming which can be picked up by the viewer over the air for free.  You should see these channels when you re-scan your TV channels on your TV.  For example our two TV stations each have several sub-channels carrying network programming: KTVX/ABC4: 4.1 is ABC, 4.2 is MeTV, 4.3 is Laff.  On KUCW/30.1 is CW30, 30.2 is Movies!, 30.3 is Grit, 30.4 is Escape.