DTV Antenna - Make the right decision - Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

DTV Antenna - Make the right decision

Millions of households depend on the use of indoor or outdoor broadcast antennas to receive television reception from local broadcast stations.

Digital television (DTV) offers the opportunity for improved picture and sound quality and new programming choices. If you have one or more analog televisions that receives free, over-the-air television programming with a rooftop antenna or "rabbit ears" on the set, you will need a "digital-to-analog converter box" (which converts digital broadcast signals to analog for viewing on your analog set) in order to continue to watch programming from full-power broadcast stations. If you have a digital television (a TV with a built-in digital tuner), you are already prepared for the DTV transition, and can enjoy the benefits of digital broadcasting today. (If you receive your local broadcast stations through a paid provider such as cable or satellite TV, you are also already prepared for the DTV transition.)

You should be aware that if you use a digital-to-analog converter box, you will still need to use an antenna to receive DTV signals. It is also important to know that if your television currently receives good quality reception on analog channels 2-51 with a broadcast antenna, it should be able to receive digital television signals, including high definition television (HDTV) signals, with the same broadcast antenna. The only exception might be with older style indoor antennas. They are unable to handle the VHF digital signal as well as outdoor antennas. You do not need to purchase a "VHF-UHF" antenna to receive DTV or HDTV signals. Again, any outdoor antenna is better than an indoor antenna. 

Testing Your Existing Antenna

Prior to making any changes to your current antenna or antenna system, you should check to see if your current antenna or antenna system will receive the digital signals being broadcast in your area. To do that, connect your existing antenna to either a digital television or a digital-to-analog converter box connected to an analog TV. Make sure your TV is set up to receive over-the-air broadcasts (as opposed to being connected to a paid provider, such as a cable or satellite TV company). It may also be helpful to perform a "channel scan" in which your TV will automatically check to see which stations it can receive (you should be able to access this feature through your remote control). In many cases, this is all you need to do watch digital television broadcasts.

Help With Reception Problems

If you experience reception problems, the following information and tips may help improve your reception for digital broadcasts.

  • Digital broadcasting will provide a clear picture even with a weak signal and in the presence of interference. However, if the digital signal falls below a certain minimum strength, the picture can suddenly disappear. This "cliff effect" means that if you typically watch analog signals that have a lot of static and distortion, you may have to upgrade your antenna system to get a reliably good signal for digital broadcasts.
  • TV reception can be affected by factors such as terrain, trees, buildings, the weather (rain, wind, humidity), and damaged/deteriorated equipment. Often digital reception can be improved just by changing the location of your current antenna. Moving it away from other objects and structures, or placing it higher can often improve reception.
  • Television stations broadcasting in digital use both the VHF band (channels 2-13) and UHF band (channels 14-51). WGEM and KHQA are now on the VHF band. Many indoor antennas use "rabbit ears" for the VHF band and a "loop" or "bow-tie" antenna for the UHF band. Make sure you are using an antenna that covers both the VHF and UHF bands and have connected it properly.
  • An outdoor antenna will get better reception than an indoor antenna. If you already have an outdoor antenna and are getting good quality reception from VHF and UHF channels, your antenna should work fine for digital television.
  • If you decide to replace or upgrade your outdoor antenna, websites such as or provide information on the locations of broadcast towers and the types of outdoor antennas appropriate for the stations you wish to receive. If you need assistance with upgrading your antenna system, check with a local antenna retailer Quincy Two-Way Communications in Quincy.

For more tips that may help to improve your reception for digital broadcasts, go to

For more information about the DTV transition, go to or contact the FCC by e-mailing; calling 1-888-CALL-FCC (1-888-225-5322) or by TTY at 1-888-TELL-FCC (1-888-835-5322).

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