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Goodbye, Analog TV. Hello, Digital TV.

It's over. Except it's not.

On Friday, almost all of the TV stations across the United States ended their analog programming -- though many of them continue to air a series of DTV-transition infomercials on their analog signals -- and switched to digital TV.

After covering this story since 1998 (!), I'd wanted to watch some of these analog sign-offs, but most of the stations around D.C. ended their analog broadcasts at noon, right as my Web chat was starting. The only one I was able to catch was the midnight sign-off of Univision's WFDC. Their news anchors discussed the transition, then cut to a countdown clock in Times Square -- and a minute or so later, the program unceremoniously stopped.


Then it was time to rescan for new signals. And that's where my own DTV transition has hit a couple of glitches.

First, the good stuff: The digital broadcasts of NBC affiliate WRC and Fox's WTTG look fantastic. Both register in the mid 80s on a Sony HDTV's signal-strength meter -- hooked up to a 12-year-old table top antenna -- at my home in just outside of the District in Arlington. Maryland PBS affiliate MPT, WFDT and WDCA come in almost as well.

But the PBS signal closer to my home, WETA -- one of the first digital stations to go on the air, and one of the stronger transmissions I've seen over the last few years -- has somehow become shaky.

Worse yet, the two local stations to move their digital signals from UHF frequencies, which worked well in all of my tests, to the VHF slots once occupied by their analog broadcasts -- ABC's WJLA and CBS's WUSA -- now have severe reception problems.

WJLA shows about half the time I've had this TV (and a Dish Network DTVPal DVR) rescan the airwaves, but its signal never gets better than 70 percent strength -- a recipe for dropouts in any less-than-ideal conditions.

WUSA, meanwhile, appears to have dropped off the map entirely. I can't get either device to detect this station -- I might as well be living in a mine shaft.

Neither of these results come close to the Federal Communications Commission's estimates (WJLA, WUSA) of their post-transition coverage. I am not alone in this predicament; since Friday, I've seen similar reports in my own e-mail, on Twitter, frequently vituperative comments on each station's site, and in the AVS Forum's discussion of Washington/Baltimore DTV reception.

For me as a viewer, this is annoying but not fatal. Like many of you, I fork over too much money every month for satellite-TV service, most of which I don't watch anyway. (Though if WUSA doesn't get its act together by March, there will be hell to pay.)

For me as a journalist who passed along those FCC estimates and counseled patience, it's much more irritating. Don't get me wrong here; digital-TV does work, as I can see every time I click over to WRC, WTTG or MPT and get a perfect, high-definition picture. But whatever WJLA and WUSA did, or did not do, to send their DTV signals off a cliff hasn't exactly done any favors for my credibility.

These stations need to debug their signals -- not for my sake, but for yours. And, ultimately, for their own; there are few better ways to send a chunk of your audience to a competitor than to give those folks no way to watch you in the first place.

What's your own DTV experience been since Friday? Please include your location and what type of antenna you use, so we can get a sense of where the trouble spots might be.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  June 15, 2009; 12:30 PM ET
Categories:  TV  
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Like you, I can no longer get WUSA, Channel 9 via my over the air antenna. Prior to Saturday, I received it with little problem. I just called the FCC DTV hotline and they told me they have received lots of calls with the same question. I wonder what WUSA's advertisers think about this? Hopefully they'll get if fixed soon.

Posted by: rbknotts | June 15, 2009 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Ditto with Channel 7 here in Falls Church. Last time I looked there were 12 pages of viewer problems posted to their site. I finally pulled in a terrible picture by resetting the converter box to factory settings and letting it acquire the signal, weak as it is, again. OTOH, Channel 4 is great, better than before the switch. I've been using the converter box since winter.

Posted by: tbva | June 15, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

I'm in a high-rise in the Landmark area of Alexandria. By shifting my antenna I've been able to improve (i.e. acquire) reception of channels 7 and 9 (channel 50 has also been a problem for me). But I'm not comfortable that it's consistent yet and am considering getting an amplified antenna.

Posted by: Cosmo06 | June 15, 2009 1:34 PM | Report abuse

40 or so miles south of DC's towers - WJLA and WUSA have become unwatchable during the day. At night, when RF noise is less, both signals work OK.

Posted by: KGDave | June 15, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I've been using various tuner/antenna combos since last year to pick up digital signals: a Panasonic DVD recorder with an amplified antenna, an Arttec converter with an amplified antenna, and a DTVPal Plus converter (which, presumably, shares a tuner with your DVR) with a cheap Radio Shack VHF/UHF rabbit ear antenna (unamplified). Like Rob, I live in Arlington.

The Panasonic and the DTVPal formerly lots of trouble with the ditital UHF signals from 7 and 9, and both now pick up the VHF signals fine. The Arttec, oddly went the other way. It picked 7 and 9 up fine before, but now both are very sensitive to the placement of the antenna -- and the precise length of the ears. They also tend to pixillate when I walk around. I've also noticed problems with WETA, and I've lost 50 on all tuners, while I've gained the ION channels.

Posted by: rashomon | June 15, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

I am using the Digital Stream DTX9950 digital converter box on a Sony. I duplicated channels for WJLA (two WJLA-HD and two WJLA-SD, etc). Only one of the duplicate channels would work. Other TVs in the house had the same issue. I repeatedly tried to rescan with the same results. Later in the day, I went back and tried the rescanning again, but did do something different. Instead of hitting "Update", I hit the "Rescan" button and the problem resolved itself.

Posted by: nbrown57 | June 15, 2009 2:04 PM | Report abuse

In McLean, third floor apartment on Magarity. Everything except Ch 9 (WUSA) comes in easily using the rabbit ears. Extending the elements on the rabbit ears brings in ch 9.

The tuner is an ElGato EyeTV Pro connected to the iMac using a USB cable.

Posted by: wiredog | June 15, 2009 2:19 PM | Report abuse

My TV experience has stayed exactly the same as it was before - fantastic. But then I have Comcast, which hasn't been affected by the switch.

Posted by: timbell24 | June 15, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

I live on the western side of Falls Church. We have a Radio Shack VHF/UHF antenna with rabbit ears and a round rotating antenna. Analog reception in our house seems to have gotten worse and worse over the years; when we switched to digital, we discovered that reception on most channels is spotty and seems to cut out at the slightest provocation (e.g. a person standing in the wrong part of the room). Now that the digital transition has come, WJLA reception was nil until I adjusted the antenna (making other channels worse in the process). WDCW also went dark.

Posted by: bokamba | June 15, 2009 2:44 PM | Report abuse

Would tin foil attached to the antennae make any difference? I hope Channel 7 sorts out the problem, I need a pix by the time ABC picks up NASCAR in Sept.

Posted by: tbva | June 15, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

Thank you very much for covering this issue. Great article! Hopefully, the stations will sort out their issues. I hope they see enough of a dip in the next Nielsen ratings report to open their eyes.

I've lost (even after rescanning) channels 7 and 9. Fortunately, I can pick up ABC Baltimore on Channel 2 (which is much further away) so I can watch ABC primetime, but I will miss WJLA local traffic in the morning. CBS remains a problem, as I can no longer get 7 or 13 which I was getting in digital prior to June 12.

Posted by: spgass1 | June 15, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

This digital transition stinks. Channel 50 comes in some days, others nothing. WETA comes in in one room, but not the other. We're in an apartment and some of our neighbor's appliances seem to interfere with the signal. When it rains, forget it.

To add insult to injury, the new channels that were touted as an upgrade from analog seem to consist solely of Weather scans, a sports channel that shows old Olympic broadcasts or similar fare, the RTN network that shows crap I wouldn't watch as a child, and 4 WETA stations, 1 of which simulcasts the other.

As for Comcast, they have horrible customer service, your On Demand may or may not work, and it's just an all around pain in the a$$. They are the reason why we have digital converters. I refuse to pay to be aggravated.

Posted by: onlytheshadowknows1 | June 15, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

I checked my antennae and it is a UHF/VHF type. I did the tin foil thing. Channel 7 comes in now but it's heavily pixilated and really bad. Channel 9 was bad and now it's worse. The tin foil gives the room a retro decoration unexpected outcome from the transition.

Posted by: tbva | June 15, 2009 3:53 PM | Report abuse

I knew this was going to happen when the digital versions of VHF channels that were using UHF frequencies went back to their VHF channel numbers. Simply put, DTV works best in UHF. Below FM frequencies, the wavelength of the frequency is highly prone to many kinds of interference. Digital stations on Channel 6 and lower are severly hampered.

I have a great antenna and am still having problems here in upstate NY with WRGB Channel 6 since they moved from 39 back to 6. Not the best move they could have made, considering I won't be getting a good CBS feed anymore.

Posted by: djbrianflorence | June 15, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

I thought the reasoning for the DTV conversion was:

1. Emergency responders could use the VHF band
2. The government could auction off some of the VHF spectrum

But now it sounds like some broadcasts (WUSA/WJLA) migrated their digital broadcast back to VHF after being on UHF digital signals that actually worked? Just doesn't make sense to me...

Posted by: spgass1 | June 15, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm in Vienna, near 66. I got Channel 7 back on my DishPal in less than 7 hours, but it was weak and unreliable. Saturday the signal was stronger. It wasn't until Sunday night that turning the antenna 90 degrees got me Channel 9, but it is weaker than Channel 7. I have an indoor/outdoor RCA antenna (quite old, but quite reliable; think space ship shape). Although, several people tried to tell me it probably wasn't VHF; I remember using it when cell phones didn't exist! So I was sure since analog worked I had a VHF antenna. Of course when you are getting one of the two channels that went VHF if seemed obvious to me that I was able to receive VHF! I had tried turn tuning the antenna up to 180 degree several time to no avail. I'm in a townhouse with trees and buildings, and of course had no trouble with the UHF signals. Now it appears the direction of the signal has changed. Perhaps, I always had a reflections and now the reflection has changed?

Posted by: Bear11 | June 15, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

I just took a look at the WJLA and WUSA websites.

Channel 7 acknowledges the problem, has links to several stories about the issue, and has put up a help page specifically geared to viewers who lost 7 and 9:

Channel 9, which seems to have the biggest problem, doesn't even mention it, aside from a comments thread from some VERY annoyed viewers.

Posted by: rashomon | June 15, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Rob, I totally agree with you.

Both WJLA 7 and WUSA 9 digital switched frequencies and like many others, I can not get their new signals, though I've tried using 3 antennas (one of them amplified) on 3 different types of ATSC tuners and on 3 of my TVs in 3 different locations. I had previously been able to receive their signals with no problem. Each of my ATSC tuners has been rescanned multiple times - both full scan and add-channel scans, and the antennas have each been tried in different configurations to no avail. There's something wrong with WJLA and WUSA if they've switched frequencies, have the same antenna locations, but their signals are no longer receivable even after a tuner re-scan.

I used to enjoy watching both WJLA and WUSA in HD, but now have to resort to the 480i over Comcast. It almost seems like an evil conspiracy between Comcast, WJLA, and WUSA to get me to upgrade to a Comcast HD set-top box.

Posted by: psybrrr69-washpost | June 15, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

My mother-in-law lives in Kettering (Largo-Upper Marlboro) MD and has two antennas in her split-level house (installed by her departed husband thirty to forty years ago). One is on the roof and one is in the attic and each differently pointed (I would guess as I was not able to see the attic antenna), and they are each distributed to different parts of the house. From the roof antenna she is able to get 7(3 channels), 9(2 channels), 26(multiple), and 66 fine. From the attic antenna she gets 4, 5, 22, 31(about 6 channels) and 2, 45, 54 and sometimes even 7 and 9 marginally. WHere she is located, the DC stations are located between west-northwest and north-northwest. The Baltimore stations are North-northeast. And channel 22 is north of Annapolis and thus East-Northeast. No combination, attic antenna, rooftop antenna, or rabbit-ears, was able to get all available stations whose transmissions solidly overlap her house - there is no excuse for the seeming weakness of the signals. The real issue is that the antennas need to be pointed for each station's best reception from her close-in location, and this is not possible when the tuner is scanning. I agree with the earlier poster that is really seems like a conspiracy between the cable and satellite providers (and Verizon and AT&T who got the auctioned-off broadcast spectrum). When the picture comes in, it is excellent. When it is marginal, it is unbearable, whereas marginal analog snow is still watchable. BOO-WAH Digital!

Posted by: snaab4 | June 15, 2009 9:49 PM | Report abuse

At my summer house in southwestern New Hampshire I am able to get a grand total of four channels. They are all from a PBS station in Vermont, channel 41; the first two are the same exact program, and there are two alternate programs. It pretty much sucks. Through last summer we were able to get an ABC and an NBC affiliate, pretty snowy.

There is satellite TV available, and a cable TV company, but no broadband internet at all. Also, cell phone signals are pretty weak up there. In all, it's a disaster for anybody who lives there full-time and cannot afford cable or satellite TV.

Posted by: doog | June 15, 2009 10:01 PM | Report abuse

out in loudoun county...bought new tv, put up new uhf hdtv antenna and was getting 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 as well as 9.1 and 9.2 before the full transition. Now I get nothing from 7 or 9. Found out today it is because they've moved their digital channel(s) from UHF down to VHF (to save power bills I guess...VHF uses less power). So my new UHF antenna doesn't see the stations. Goodbye WUSA and ABC 7. I refuse to buy another antenna.

Posted by: AHappyWarrior | June 15, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm currently "on assignment" in Raleigh, so my experience is not directly related to the DC area, but here the switchover was very smooth. Only one station switched back to VHF, and I get that just fine with my rabbit-ears+UHF loop antenna -- both first and second floors, about 13 miles from most of the stations' antenna. Before last week, the DTV signal from all the channels was problematic, if it even looked like rain I'd get freeze-frames, pixelization, or "No Signal." Tonight, we've got storms all over the area and I get very little breakup, even on stations where my signal strength is registering at 10%.

The only station I don't see is the local PBS affiliate, west of Chapel Hill, and they promise to have a new transmitter online Real Soon Now.

Posted by: rcjhawk1 | June 15, 2009 11:12 PM | Report abuse

We're on the third floor of a DC apt building a couple of blocks NW of Dupont Circle, facing east by northeast. We can't use an external antenna. Have Magnavox TB100MW9 converter box attached to Philips PHDTV3 Indoor Amplified UHF/VHF/FM/HDTV Antenna. (Antenna works best unpowered.)

Pre-conversion, received all digital OTA (over the air) signals very clearly except WETA and Ch50. Post-conversion, everything is clear except for WJLA and WUSA, which are gone. I've tweaked the antenna quite a bit, trying to get their signals. Sometimes they come in for a few seconds while I'm manipulating the antenna, but they don't remain.

Now that I understand this problem is because WJLA and WUSA are transmitting their digital signal over VHF rather than UHF, I've offically given up trying. They're apparently both aware of widespread OTA reception problems, but I found nothing on either of their websites acknowledging the problem or assuring viewers they are working on it.

WJLA did report on a Montgomery County man having trouble with their signal, even sent a reporter in to confirm the signal was marginal. Conclusion? WJLA will keep working on his problem and will let us know when it's solved! Then, I suppose, they'll go on to the next viewer with a problem, and the next, and so on.

Can the FCC insist on the reallocation of UHF spectrum in our area - take some channels away from IONLife and MHz and get WJLA and WUSA back on the air in the public interest? Or are we just out of luck?

Posted by: skylinr | June 16, 2009 12:25 AM | Report abuse

I just came across this on the FCC's dtv website. Apparently some devices don't clear their memory of old channel information when a rescan is done, so they're still looking for signals on the old frequencies. They advise what is called "double rescanning." The procedure is given here:

Posted by: rashomon | June 16, 2009 1:04 AM | Report abuse

Hmmm, despite being behind the hill at Tysons (so not line-of-sight) 7 and 9 have some of the best signal strength measurements of the stations I receive.

I'm using the basic Insignia converter box. I kept the VHF/UHF rooftop antenna (15+ years old?) that came with the house. I ran a new line and carefully positioned it last October, but then stuck with analog until 6/12, so I can't really compare before/after. (Though I did try the converter before that).

With an amplified splitter I can also get 11 and 13 (which are line-of-sight, 40 mi, away). But, the amplifier knocks out 7 and 9 (!), so I ended up removing it.

My guesses about everyone else's problems would be:

1) having an UHF-only antenna.
2) using an amplifier that ends up amplifing noise on VHF more than the signal (try it without the amplifier).
3) rescanning that doesn't really work for some reason (the "double rescan'" sounds worth a try).

WETA is a station that I think I should be getting, but it's usually unviewable for me. I think they may have a power increase planned, though.

Posted by: iMac77 | June 16, 2009 3:05 AM | Report abuse

Not to pick on you Pigaroro, but antennas and RF propagation are complicated, technical subjects.

It's not WETA, WJLA, or WUSA's problem to solve. Basically, you and the others who are having trouble, are looking through coke bottle glasses, bobbing your heads around, blinking your eyes, trying to get a better view.

One clue is your antenna, table top, twin-line fed, which is a poor SWR match on VHF and is picking up multi-path, the bane of digital.

As for the other question, there are TWO VHF bands, VHF-low and VHF-high. TV is giving up VHF-low, which is just as well.

Posted by: tchtic | June 16, 2009 4:12 AM | Report abuse

I live in Laurel and I got channel 7 and 9 digitally fine with $12 rabbit ears until Saturday. Thankfully I have cable and can access the main channels fine from there, but I'm mainly irritated that I can't watch Buck Rogers on 7-3 right now

Posted by: DocHolliday1906 | June 16, 2009 7:07 AM | Report abuse

I am getting better reception and receiving more channels after the digital switchover in Gaithersburg. I have a amplified VHF/UHF antenna in my attic. Previously I had weak to moderate signals for 30, 50, 62, 66. Now those come in strong. 7 and 9 are no longer in the 90s on my meter, but they come in strong enough.

Posted by: pstauff | June 16, 2009 7:27 AM | Report abuse

While tchtic may be correct that antennas and RF propagation are complex subjects, the fact is that no one forced WJLA, WUSA, WBAL and WJZ to shift from UHF to VHF transmissions immediately after ceasing analog transmissions. They chose to make the switch and that makes it their problem to solve.

While I'm sure that their station engineers have acquired all kinds of experience regarding digital transmissions over the last few years I doubt that much of it involved VHF signals (it would have been difficult to conduct many "real world" experiments on VHF transmission of digital TV signals while analog transmissions occupied those same frequencies). Rather than take a few days after the end of analog transmissions to experiment (time in which they might have identified some of these problems) they rushed ahead with the switch from UHF to VHF and now we're all being asked to serve as beta-testers while they try and sort the mess that they created.

Perhaps the FCC should allow these stations to return to transmitting in UHF while they figure out what went wrong (I find it hard to belief that there isn't enough band width in UHF to accommodate them). That would buy them time to get VHF transmissions right in the next "service pack" type upgrade.

Posted by: fencer29 | June 16, 2009 8:23 AM | Report abuse

I have a large Channel Master rooftop VHF/UHF antenna that I put up about 12 years ago to watch analog TV. My analog reception was very bad (lots of ghosts even with a large directional antenna), as I am backed up against a hill in So. Arlington near Crystal City and have lots of reflections and airplane interference, as I am close to the airport. Things are much better with digital. I am using Zenith DTT 900 and DTT 901 converter boxes (the best) and also a cheaper Magnavox box from Wal-Mart. Since the transition, Channel 7 and 9 are stronger than before - 7 even registers 100% strength on the Zenith box. VHF fills in better behind hills than UHF. (With analog, 7 was my best picture). I also have fine reception on 2, 4, 5, 14, 20, 22, 26, 30-1 thru 30-5 (but not the 30-6 thru 30-10 that come from the Goldvein transmitter), 32, 50, and 66. Post transition I have gained Ch 2 and lost 13 (since 2 took over 13s old transmitter), and gained 30 and 66 (which took over channel 9 pre-transition transmitter). 22 is more solid now than before the transition, but 50 may be a little weaker. My antenna is aimed at the DC stations. The rotor is broken so I can't aim it at Baltimore, but perhaps I could get more Balto stations if I fixed that. But I'm happy with things as they are now. The picture is better than I ever got when I had cable, and it's free. If you can, but up a decent "real" roof-top antenna, just like we did in the old days and you will be OK with 7 and 9. They even now make much more compact antennas now that are for high-band VHF (7-13) and UHF only, which is all you need now that there is nothing on channel 2 thru 6. The largest elements on the antenna that were for the low-band signals are no longer needed and the antenna can be smaller. Be careful with the use of amplifiers, as they often make things worse with digital, especially on VHF. You may only want to amplify the UHF for a mulitple-set installation or with a long cable run. Make sure the amplifier is at the antenna, not at the TV set. It is worth spending a little money up front on a decent antenna, rather than paying for cable. The antenna will pay for itself relatively quickly.

Posted by: alrob8 | June 16, 2009 8:26 AM | Report abuse

I live about 45 miles or so away in Brunswick MD. I no longer recieve any signals. My TV is only 4 years old. Ih ave a digital converter box as well as a power Phillips antenae. According to the government website, I should be getting 18 signals per my zip code but I get nothing. My converter box scans and finds no signals. I heard a few months ago that some of these things 'scan too fast' but even when I do it manually, it says there are no signals. Do I just live too far away? Am I the only one having trouble? I have satelite TV but I really want to dump it.

Posted by: mvadney | June 16, 2009 8:33 AM | Report abuse

For mvadney in Brunswick - you need a rooftop VHF/UHF antenna. An indoor antenna (whether power amplified or not) is insufficient at 45 miles away.

Posted by: alrob8 | June 16, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Reception problems? Gosh, that wasn't supposed to happen. Not according to the Bush Administration's public-disinformation campaign that so many columnists and commenters swallowed hook line and sinker. The magic was supposed to solve everything, remember?

Give the prior regime credit: The one thing they were superb at was disinformation.

Posted by: mattintx | June 16, 2009 8:43 AM | Report abuse

I am in Oakton and have been viewing digital TV over the air for about four years. I am using a roof top antenna, but I don't know the details since it belongs to the condo. I haven't noticed any real change since Friday. I have never been able to get channel 22. Channel 50 comes and goes seemingly at random over the years, but I have not seen it since Friday. Last summer there were stretches of time where I had problems getting channels 26 and 9. I emailed channel 26 and asked what might be going on (since I have never had problems with channel 26 before), and they wrote back and basically said nothing on their end. I hoped that once analog was over and the stations could devote all their resources to digital that the myterious coming and going of channels would be fixed. From what Rob says I guess that's not the case yet. Looks to me like reception problems are going to be a big issue for digital TV. Since a lot more people are now going to be getting digital TV over the air, the reception problems are going to become an issue. People are going to get tired of buying and fiddling with antennas.

Posted by: spidey103 | June 16, 2009 8:49 AM | Report abuse

No, tchtic, TV is NOT abandoning the VHF low band.

Before you call me a lazy idiot (and I know you want to), better look here:

Sort the table by column E, and what do you know? Forty channels in the low band!

Posted by: mattintx | June 16, 2009 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Ms1995hoo lives on the top-floor of a high-rise near Landmark. One of her TVs (an ancient 1981 model) to which I hooked a converter box and a new UHF/VHF antenna pulls in all the local channels with no problem other than the need to fiddle with it CONSTANTLY to pull in Channel 9--the picture craps out in an instant. Her newest TV (a Samsung I gave her last Christmas) is in the living room and isn't connected to its own antenna, yet it pulls in 4,5, 14, 20, 26, 50, and 66 with no problem. Doesn't get 7 or 9 at all, and she said under no circumstances would she accept an antenna in the living room due to the appearance. So I also hooked up the "cable" jack on that TV to her building's master antenna up on the roof; doing that pulls in 7 and 9 (relocated to 17 and 19 for some reason), but the signals are exclusively low-def. Seems the building management hooked up some sort of master converter box on the common antenna so that the old people and foreigners who didn't understand the DTV conversion process wouldn't have to obtain converter boxes, but in doing so they've prevented people from obtaining any HD signals via the master antenna. Stupid. They originally told everyone who wanted HD that "you'll have to call Comcast cable," but there must have been a revolt against that because now they say HD channels "will be added in the future."

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 16, 2009 9:08 AM | Report abuse

I have a table top amplified rabbit ears, and before I got channels 4,5,7,9,14,20,26,32 very strong. Since the switch, I now also get 30 and 66, but unfortunately I have lost channel 9. I still do not receive channel 50 very well.

Posted by: nuzuw | June 16, 2009 9:28 AM | Report abuse

From Germantown. Most problems are with Chans. 7 & 9. Thurs. night got 7 great when it was UHF but lost it Fri. night when they switched back to VHF. Good bye Chan 7,, if I can't get you I can't watch you.

Posted by: ecomcon | June 16, 2009 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Rob - this isn't about my digital conversion problems since I already had digital cable (though channel 7 was out for at least 20 minutes on Friday after the switch on my cable system - Cox Fairfax - and when I called them to find out what was going on, they had no idea (luckily channel 7 reappeared while I was on hold).

I have another question. Why can't *I* get the RTN network on my cable service?? Maybe some here don't want it, but I do!

Posted by: solsticebelle | June 16, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

There are no traces of WJLA or WUSA in Gaithersburg. All others look good.

Posted by: richarddenton | June 16, 2009 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Just another reason why Minnesota needs to get its act together. We need Al Franken .. now!

Posted by: tslats | June 16, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

Our FREE Air IS NO Longer Filled With Powerful CARRIER Waves. Back IN Old Days, Last Week, You could USE UHF Rotary Tuner & Get Satelite Channels, Due To Excessive Amount of Voltage IN Air. NOW You Cann't.

Same With DTV, Signal Just Don't Have power, so many spaces in IT. ROB-Did You Try AMPLIFIED Antenas Like your Readers Suggested. Maybe Finer Amplified Antenae Needs Be Developed.

OLD ATSC Enviorment ISn't Same Today. FCC Never Promised YOU More Than ONE Useable Signal for FREE. Ch23 IS Still Transmitting in UHF Spectrum, With FULL Programing. Reason 5 & 4 come in wELL Carrier Wave That OLD VHF IS Still In Transmission.

You Can Pack 4 Channels into one ATSC channels Bandwidth NOW. So TV Makers ARe Planning 8 MegaPixel TV So Broadcaster Can fill Entire Alloted Frquency With ONE Useable Signal. So Krump, ITS' NEVER Over.


Posted by: thomasxstewart | June 16, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

I live in the Va Square area of Arlington in a low-rise garden apartment. I'm using a Tivax converter box and my old indoor set-top antenna with VHF/UHF, rabbit ears/round circle. I get WRC, Fox, WJLA, WUSA, Spanish channel 14, WDCA, WETA, WHUT, WDCW, foreign language channels in the 30's, and ION channels. I don't get WMPT, which was my favorite channel. All seem fine, most of the time, unless there is a bad storm or low plane.

Posted by: Arlme | June 16, 2009 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I have a non-reception problem with Cox Cable.

Since the changeover, they seem to have stopped carrying the public broadcasting stations WHUT and MPT in their non-HD tier. I saw no warning of this; I'll just assume it is part of their approach to push everyone to the higher-cost level...

Posted by: natellad | June 16, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

Rob or tech-savvy folks -- Do we know why 7 and 9 switched bands? What was the logic on their end?

Posted by: airsix | June 16, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

In southern Fairfax County, with the rabbit ears on the kitchen teevee, I'm getting naught but all 10 MHZ channels. Which is kind of cool, actually. I'm getting France News, en anglais, and I may start learning Mandarin and Hindi before too long.

Too bad about not getting local news though. How am I supposed to find out about the latest developments in sexting and, depending on what study is being released today, why I either should or shouldn't be drinking coffee?

Posted by: novamatt | June 16, 2009 11:14 AM | Report abuse

Rob, you have said: "As for the equity issue: Look, a *lot* of people didn't get any worthwhile analog reception and do get good digital reception now. Analog reception was especially bad in cities, what with all the ghosting effects caused by signals bouncing off buildings. Is it necessarily unfair to improve reception for many people at the loss of reception for fewer people?"

I wouldn't state that so matter of factly. My own belief is that half got marginal, almost unnoticeable improvement (because they ALREADY HAD A STRONG SIGNAL! DUH!). And half LOST one or several channels, because DIGITAL HAS SUCH A LIMITED USABLE RANGE compared to analog.

The math is not complicated. Less people receive less basic channels under DTV than before. And some people receive more basket weaving and gardening and NOAA weather channels due to bandwith advantages. Never mind. It's a brilliant change.

Posted by: Texan7 | June 16, 2009 11:15 AM | Report abuse

I hope that WJLA and WUSA are "getting it" that the people who are having problems are not just clueless people who were unprepared. I bought a converter box and antenna over a year ago and was getting digital 9.1, 9.2, 7.1, 7.2 and 7.3 just fine before Friday. Now I can't get them AT ALL. No antenna adjustment seems to matter either. Why on earth would they use VHF when everyone else uses UHF??? Is that even the problem??? Why in the world would they screw up what already worked???

Posted by: FloydTheBarber | June 16, 2009 11:41 AM | Report abuse

I've been in E-Mail communication with WUSA's President and their Director of Technology. We lost them BOTH on brand new hi-end SONYs in both Fort Washington and Arlington, too extremely separated to be a coincidence. I still haven't learned why they switched abruptly to VHF without testing or their plans to regain pre-"Friday the 12th" performance. Both 7 and 9 have let down their viewers and sponsors. Both performed acceptably on test digital UHF channels before the "bait and switch" of Black Friday where they jumped to VHF with all of its problems in Metropolitan DC...and why just those two networks? Recommend a Rob-led MASS ACTION to have them BOTH go BACK to UHF as they did during the trials, as an almost inevitable FCC complaint will not be a good reflection on either the FCC or these stations. SEVEN AND NINE GO BACK TO UHF, IMMEDIATELY, LIKE ALL OF THE OTHER SERVICE PROVIDERS! "New Coke" didn't work out so they wisely went back to the last acceptable flavor and are still in business. Give us CLASSIC 7 and 9----but on digital UHF.

Posted by: DrBill1 | June 16, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

adding to the pile-on... i live in an apt in downtown dc and am no longer getting wusa. i now get both baltimore and dc stations for abc, as well as baltimore and dc stations for cw. multiple rescans and antenna manuevering accomplish nothing. channel 9 is just gone.

Posted by: tinadc2 | June 16, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

We have the opposite problem from Rob and most commenters here. In Franconia we have no signal at all from NBC 4. ABC 7 and CBS 9 are fine, Fox seems to work too. PBS is there, but weak with lots of breakup.

Posted by: Woulde | June 16, 2009 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Hot diggity dog! Just like watching television in Morgantown, WV when I was a child (1950's and 60's). Point the antenna north for channels 2 and 4, slightly northeast for channel 11, on a good day, northeast for a fuzzy channel 6 and northwest for real fuzzy channels 7 & 9. But, couldn't watch anything at 11 PM when a neighbor used an electric razor before going to bed. Now, where did I put that Channel Master TV antenna rotator?

Posted by: djm-01 | June 16, 2009 12:33 PM | Report abuse

Unable to get CHN 7 or CHN 9 from DC since the conversion. I live in Odenton MD and am able to pick up all the UHF Digital channels in the DC and MD area. Even with a VHF/UHF combo antenna and a new RCA Omni-directional antenna I have in my window, CHN 7 and CHN 9 come up with 0 % strength. They are the only stations to convert to VHF, I guess you have to be very close to them now. I live about 20-25 miles from DC and Baltimore and can pick up to UHF digitial stations, almost all of them.

Posted by: SJanke | June 16, 2009 12:46 PM | Report abuse

Just like al lof the other folks. I've been receiving 7 and 9 digitally since January (really enjoyed 7.3 and the retro shows!). Then, after rescanning, I get nothing.

Count me as one fewew viewer. I'll go back to ABC and CBS from Baltimore which work just fine.

Posted by: asdfasd1 | June 16, 2009 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Had completely the opposite experience from many posters. I live near the National Cathedral. WJLA (7) and WUSA (9) were nonexistent for me before the switch, but Baltimore's WBAL (11) and WJZ (13) were strong.

Now, WBAL and WJZ are gone, but WJLA and WUSA are perfect. Also picked up WMAR (2, Baltimore) and WETA, neither of which I could get before.

All very strange.

Posted by: radiotv1 | June 16, 2009 1:24 PM | Report abuse

Lorton, VA about 20 miles due South of the Capitol
3 months ago I bought and installed a new Winegard roof antenna made for DTV.
Before Friday :
4, 5, 7-1-2-3, 9-1-2-3, 20-1, 22 Analog 26-all MHZ 30-all intermittent
50-1 intermittent.
My Insignia [BestBuy] Dig TV set has a signal strength meter built in here is what it reads.
4 & 5 ...40
7-all ...27 , 22 gone,
26-1 ...0-15 26-2 ...15-27 ,
26-3 ... 27-35,
26-4 ...0-15-27 intermittent
30 disappeared 50-1 ...0-15.
WETA didn't test-
MPT doesn't want viewers from VA
Few did their homework and based on meter strength numbers none except 4&5 want to spend the money needed on their signal strength.

Posted by: vabear | June 16, 2009 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I live in Kensington MD. Channels 4, 7, 26 and others are very strong. Channel 9 signal is not strong enough to be watchable. Baltimore channels are nonexistent. The biggest disappointment is that WMPT - channel 22 has a signal level of zero (none of my neighbors can pick up WMPT over-the-air either). It is of special concern in that Comcast recently chose to remove WMPT from their analog tier. WMPT is one of the only local media outlets that cover Maryland state government. I am using a DTVpal plus converter box with an older rabbit ears antenna. As recommended by WMPT, I am off to purchase a stronger antenna so that I can try again.

Posted by: AlfredCarr1 | June 16, 2009 1:59 PM | Report abuse

I live in Fairlington (Arlington) and channels 7, 9 and 50 are coming in and out now (before they were fine) but I do have many more stations w/my rabbit ears, including channel 54 (Baltimore's CW). I hope they fix their problems soon!

Posted by: Renee5 | June 16, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

I also "lost" WUSA when I did a rescan Saturday morning. I simply "added" the channel manually to the lineup and am now watching it just fine. Go figure.

Posted by: Diner65 | June 16, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

Lorton, VA about 20 miles due South of the Capitol
3 months ago I bought and installed a new Winegard roof antenna made for DTV.
Before Friday :
4, 5, 7-1-2-3, 9-1-2-3, 20-1, 22 Analog 26-all MHZ 30-all intermittent
50-1 intermittent.
My Insignia [BestBuy] Dig TV set has a signal strength meter built in here is what it reads.
4 & 5 ...40
7-all ...27 , 22 gone,
26-1 ...0-15 26-2 ...15-27 ,
26-3 ... 27-35,
26-4 ...0-15-27 intermittent
30 disappeared 50-1 ...0-15.
WETA didn't test-
MPT doesn't want viewers from VA
Few did their homework and based on meter strength numbers none except 4&5 want to spend the money needed on their signal strength.

Posted by: vabear | June 16, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

My mom lives in NE DC near N. Capitol and Florida. She can get channels 4 and 5 pretty good, but it's hit or miss for channels 7, 9, 20 and 50. She can not recieve any of the local PBS stations. She said that last night out of the blue when she was trying to watch CSI on channel 9 with the spotty reception that she gets, the Spanish language subtitles were showing at the bottom of the screen without her doing anything to the TV or converter box to get that on there. We fail to see what the improvement is now that TV is digital. Isn't newer technology supposed to make things better?

Posted by: DeniseABrown | June 16, 2009 3:43 PM | Report abuse

What a total cock-up. The way things were handled in most locations; it was impossible to get someone completely set up beforehand. I did everything I could do to get my octogenarian mother set up in advance and after the conversion, half of her digital channels disappeared. I’m doing this from a state away so just popping over to fiddle with the antenna or rescan the channels is not an option. The much, much small reception area for the digital signals is the most insidious thing about the whole transition. How is it that this was acceptable; that we’d take the most marginalized population and knowingly take significant resources (TV signals) away from them, leaving them with cable or satellite that they can’t afford as the only option? This is the most regressive act I’ve seen from our government in a long time. I understand that the average over-the-air stats for the country are only about 10% but I bet that the averages for the elderly are two the three times what they are for the population as a whole. What a way to treat our elders.

Posted by: ericburgmann | June 16, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Folks - this is an exceptionally informative thread. Thank you.

My colleague Kim Hart is working on a story about the issues most of us have been seeing with WJLA and WUSA (and, to a lesser extent, WETA) and would like to hear from you. She's at

Meanwhile... I tried the double-rescan procedure overnight on the Sony TV and the DTVPal DVR (I also reset the latter's settings); this morning, I could get WJLA with a signal strength in the mid 70s, but WUSA remains invisible. For your reference, here's a plot of predicted reception at my location--see how well it says I should all these stations? Now I'm thinking that I might take advantage of Radio Shack's 30-day return policy to try out a different antenna.

Finally, to answer some of your specific questions/comments:

rashomon: Thanks for the links. FYI to anybody having trouble following the WJLA link--delete the last period.

1995hoo: I think I know this building--it's come up a bunch of my Web chats. Doesn't seem like the smartest move by management to block HD reception for the entire building.

natellad: Pretty much all of the cable companies have been moving everything but your immediately local channels to their digital tier. (One cable operator, RCN, has already moved to an all-digital setup.) Why? Analog cable's way too inefficient compared to digital cable--it's the same reason nobody offers analog cellular service anymore.

DrBill1: Tell your friend at WUSA that my colleague Kim is quite interested in talking to him!

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | June 16, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Old Town Alexandria, indoor amplified antenna, 4th floor with line of sight to the TV towers in NW. Have been enjoying DTV for several years, so much so that I dropped cable. During the switch I, too, lost WUSA and WJLA (and RTN on 7.2!) . Rescanned repeatedly, no joy. I now find if I pull out the little rabbit ears on the back of the antenna, pull just one down until it touches the metal table on which the antenna sits, and then point it just so, I can get them. Not happy about this. I also used to easily get all Baltimore broadcast channels, now get ABC affiliate only, though now have new MPT stations. Still not happy about this.

Posted by: SilverBlue | June 16, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

"I think I know this building--it's come up a bunch of my Web chats."

You got it! Same complex! Five buildings and I assume each has its own master antenna, though I don't know for sure.

I find it interesting that the el cheapo $13.99 UHF/VHF antenna I bought her at Best Buy for the ancient 1981-vintage TV pulls in more channels, with a better picture (as long as you don't mind that it's a black-and-white TV), than the super-duper new "master antenna." I know a lot of condo associations tend to be dominated by elderly people who probably got misled as to what they needed to do with their antenna, but really, it looks to me like whoever is in charge over there got suckered.

Posted by: 1995hoo | June 16, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

Rob at least gets 7 sometimes. For me, 7 is just as gone as 9. I haven't been able to watch either of them on my antenna connected televisions.

I have to assume that WUSA and WJLA are aware of this, aren't they?

Posted by: p_chuck | June 16, 2009 4:50 PM | Report abuse

I live in Rockville, MD, and I can no longer receive channels 7 & 9 from my amplified indoor Terk HDTV antenna. However, I do have rooftop aerial on the southeastern slope of my roof and I can get good 7 and 9 reception as well as all the other DC channels except for channel 50. Even better, with good conditions I get mostly unpixelated signals from 13 and 45-1 from Baltimore. 45-2 is frequently pixelated as well as 11. Forget about channel 2 or MPT. Go figure.

Posted by: keithmo | June 16, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

Same problem on Capitol Hill - 9 has disappeared, 7 is shaky, and so is 50. Oddly enough, I get all channels of 26 (WETA) just fine, but don't get 22 (WMPT) at all, though I'm closer to Maryland than Virginia. Also gained four channels of 66.

Posted by: cpwdc | June 16, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

How many legs does this non-story have?

Posted by: whocares666 | June 16, 2009 6:24 PM | Report abuse

Sorry, most of you still do not understand what you are dealing with. You probably should not expect to understand this but I see a lot of deep thinking going on.

RF propagation in VHF and UHF is complicated. It is half black art and half arcane science. Distance and signal strength do matter but multi-path counts for more.

In addition, they've messed up the notation, see

The reason that those stations moved down to VHF from UHF isn't to mess you up (which it did). It was to give people out 30, 40 miles a chance to receive the signal.

Multi-path and a poor antenna SWR is your problem. For each of you who lost signal, several people in the boonies has acquired the signal and service.

You can re-acquire the signal with a "better" antenna, which might not necessarily mean a higher gain antenna or one with an amplifier.

Posted by: tchtic | June 16, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Being located in Franklin County, PA I am on the fringe for 3 DMA's DC, Baltimore and Harrisburg. I have helped 4 of my friends and neighbors with there converters, Some with good results and others not so good. We have all received both DC and Baltimore analog channels for years with no problems (both VHF and UHF)all have channelmaster or winegard VHF/UHF antenna and pre-amps and rotators. Our problems out here are not only with VHF but UHF also. Several have no problem at all with WJLA, WUSA, WBAL or WJZ. I do, can only receive WJLA about 20% of the time and nothing from the other VHF. The UHF's are worse out here, most can only be received at night. Many them have grown up with and have wathced the DC and Baltimore station since television first started. and now we are left with NBC WHAG and MPT.

Posted by: jcmbms | June 16, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Sounds like if ya had WJLA and WUSA via converter box before the switch ya don't have it anymore. If ya didn't have it...ya got it now. Maybe we can all switch houses?
I'm not buying any more gizmos. If Channel 7 and 9 appear, fine. If not...see ya..........

Posted by: tbva | June 16, 2009 8:42 PM | Report abuse

tchtic, as someone who lives out in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I could get reception from channels 7 and 9 on analog from an indoor antenna. I also picked them up when they switched to digital UHF. Now on digital VHF, I can't pick them up but am picking up channels 4, 5 and many other UHF channels loud and clear.

I just can't buy that WUSA and WJLA ruined their signals in an attempt to help people like me when their switch had the exact opposite impact.

Posted by: spgass1 | June 16, 2009 10:21 PM | Report abuse

By the way, if interested, I wrote a blog post today about what a headache this transition has turned out to be.

I'm looking forward to reading Kim Hart's article tomorrow morning.

Posted by: spgass1 | June 16, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

Before the transition, the best I could receive was 5 and sometimes 9. My house is on the west side of 7 corners so the hill is in the way. After the transition, I can receive 4, 5, 7, and 9. Still can't get 20 or 26. Go figure.

Posted by: Al_G | June 16, 2009 10:39 PM | Report abuse

A message to all those who can no longer get channels 7 or 9: those channels are now broadcasting on VHF. If you do not have an antenna that is designed to receive VHF , you will not likely be able to tune those channels. Also, you may need to upgrade to a better VHF antenna if the one you have does not pick up those VHF channels in digital the way it did with analog.

Posted by: Reader001 | June 16, 2009 10:57 PM | Report abuse

My problem has been with 9 (WUSA). My elderly parents live in Vienna in a mid-rise building and they get everything but 9. I went to their page and after following their suggestions. I called their office. They have a message that directs you to call the FCC! I did that and the FCC said, if you're getting all the other channels take it up with WUSA. So I wrote emails to the general manager, news room, on down of WUSA.

I have now exchanged 3 emails with Victor Murphy, Director of Technology & Operations. He keeps giving suggestions on things to try, which I had already done ALL before calling or emailing them. Lets see what he comes up with next....

Posted by: crystal13l | June 17, 2009 9:37 AM | Report abuse

My cable TV reception has been unchanged for all channels during the transition except for our old analog extension set upstairs hooked up to cable without a set-top box. CNN and a few other channels barely came in and Cox was stumped when asked to fix it. Now those channels come in as they should. Cox promised we need do nothing, and they seem to be right so far. I pay dearly for Cox cable/phone/'net service, the only such service available to me until Fios is installed in my neighborhood in on the outskirts of the Vienna Va. mailing district. Verizon says they will be installing FIOS there soon (?)

Posted by: photodon | June 17, 2009 10:48 AM | Report abuse

Are any of the TV stations going to do a story on how terrible and frustrating DTV is? Of course if they did I couldn’t see it! In this economy we try to live within our means but have to shell out money for all these extra things to get TV reception. I'm oh so thrilled with the politicians who enacted this law.

We had no problem receiving signals before the switch. In February I bought the converter boxes, bought extra antennas and TV was never the same again. I lived with not being able to receive channels 32, 50, 54 and the Baltimore stations.

I had most stations right before the transition. My reception is shot now. I can now get 5, 7, 9, and 22 on my main TV-on a good day. On other TV's I can get 5 and 7...sometimes 9, NEVER 4. Any forget about getting 22, 26, etc.

Posted by: golfmom1 | June 17, 2009 10:58 AM | Report abuse

Well at the Grosvenor Park Condominiums, we have a Satellite TV service by MDU Communications. Because it is a private distribution system we get most of the Baltimore Stations. However since the digital switchover all I get a black screens with Channel 11 WBAL and WJZ-13. I called MDU and they sent someone over but nothing has happened.

Anyone know why its happening besides WJZ and WBAL reducing their digital power?

Posted by: Nightman | June 17, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Greetings from the hinterlands of Harrisburg, PA. Many months ago I emailed Bob to warn of these potential problems. He reminded me that the government did not owe any of us a TV signal, but said that all was well where he lived in the DC area. I was patient and guess what. I have done a scan with my converter box and all 10 expected channels are crystal clear so far, including 3 that I did not receive before June 12.
So just relax, those stations who value over the air viewers will respond and fix the problems. Do not rush to spend money for antennas just yet.

Posted by: george_b_42 | June 17, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

tchtic: You're providing some good information here, but you might want to work on your bedside manner a little. Just sayin'...

photodon: Whatever problems you're having with Cox, I guarantee you the DTV transition has nothing to do with them.

Now, my update: I did some more fiddling with antenna placement last night and this morning. What I've found is that if I stick the antenna on a north-facing windowsill, all the problem stations--7, 9 and 26--come in perfectly. If I move it a couple of feet away, 9 drops out but 7 and 26 are still there. And if I put the antenna behind the TV, 7 and 26 are gone too. No, my home's walls aren't made of metal.

I'm guessing that my next move will be to try a different antenna. The one I've been using (it looks like this model) doesn't seem to be sensitive enough to VHF signals.

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | June 17, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

Victor at WUSA had a suggestion so I'll pass it along. It didn't work for me but maybe it might help someone.
" Take your vhf dipoles and retract them to about ½ or 2/3 length. Then lay them flat, or horizontal. I’m getting a lot of success with this move."
I have a Radio Shack 15-1868 sitting on top of a 6 ft bookcase. I have one dipole pointed to the North out a window and other one is kinda South. Horizontal does not help me get 7 or 9 and hurts 4.

Posted by: tbva | June 17, 2009 5:35 PM | Report abuse

We've been using ONLY over-the-air digital TV (no cable or satellite) for about 4-5 years now with NO problems and great broadcast quality. I live in southeast Loudoun county, and could pick up everything in DC and also the major stations in Baltimore before the switch. After the switch I've lost all the channels in both cities that moved from UHF to VHF, likely because I have a Winegard HD antenna that's UHF only. This obviously includes channels 7 & 9 in DC. All the channels that stayed UHF work as good or better than before the switchover. I've got Fairfax Antenna (my original installer) coming back out tomorrow to take a look, but will probably get stuck buying a whole new antenna with VHF capabilities. Needless to say I'm not happy about this.

Posted by: innocentbystander | June 17, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I live in Prince William county away from any housing development and before the DTV conversion date I could get local NBC, Fox, ABC and sometimes WUSA with the converter box on the one tv we have that does not have cable. After the conversion date I rescanned and got NO network channels at all. I tried again and again on different days and sometimes could get some of them but never WUSA and the signal faded in and out on the others. This is ridiculous. I can get those international channels just fine but don't care about them. This is a fiasco. I am going to try another antenna but from what I read..its not going to help. The Electric company across the road from us has two tall communication towers..wonder if thats affecting us? I am so distressed.

Posted by: TB | June 18, 2009 8:54 AM | Report abuse

We have our rec room TV connected to Comcast cable, but our kitchen TV is an old one with built-in rabbit ears. We got a converter box months ago but have been annoyed by occasional pixelation. There was no change after the switchover to digital last week. Yesterday we bought a new digital TV with a VHF/UHF tabletop antenna for the kitchen thinking we would have perfect reception. WRONG! We can get only about a dozen channels and no WJLA or WUSA. So the old TV is back in place, the new set is back in the box. How can an old TV with obsolete, built-in antenna and converter box do better than a new digital TV with a tabletop antenna in the same spot in the same house?

Posted by: paulas1 | June 18, 2009 12:58 PM | Report abuse

OK a new antenna and $260 later, I can now see channels 7 & 9 again. Please let me know where I can submit my reimbursement WUSA & WJLA. >:(

Posted by: innocentbystander | June 18, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

Rob, out of curiosity, what are your colleagues and/or bloggers at the Baltimore Sun saying about this problem? Have those viewers lost the DC channels as we've lost the Baltimore channels?

Posted by: DeniseABrown | June 18, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

tbva: Thanks for passing that along! If you hear from that guy again, you might want to suggest that WUSA broaden its communications strategy beyond "let's hope that one viewer remembers to post a comment about our advice on somebody else's blog."

paulas1: What make/model is this new, not-as-effective DTV?

DeniseABrown: Looks like a couple of Balto. stations are having DTV troubles of their own.

- RP

Posted by: robpegoraro | June 18, 2009 7:26 PM | Report abuse

I also thought trying to trouble shoot customer problems one at a time seemed a tad bit labor intensive :)

Posted by: tbva | June 18, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

I'm in Arlington. Like many others, I lost Ch. 7 and 9 at the time of switchover (Fri., June 12), as well as Ch. 11 and 13 from Balt. Ch. 4 and 5 continued to come in fine.

Then yesterday (Thu., June 18), I lost Ch. 5 completely - NO signal whatsoever. I started to pick up a weak signal for Ch. 7 (but it's patchy - not watchable).

The problems with Ch. 7 and 9 result from their decision to switch from UHF to VHF. But so far as I know, Ch. 5 is still on UHF frequency. And Ch. 5 reception was pretty good until just yesterday.

I miss not being able to see FOX5 Morning News. Anyone else encountered recent problems with Ch. 5?

Posted by: jrmil | June 19, 2009 10:07 AM | Report abuse


Our new, not-as-effective as the older TV with converter box is a Toshiba 15LV505. Two days, umpteen re-positionings of the antenna and 6 rescans later, we can now get Channel 7, but not Channel 9. Still, we lose the picture and get a low signal message so frequently on most channels, including 7, that it is really not worth watching. We're in the city of Alexandria, not out in the boonies.

Posted by: paulas1 | June 20, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

I've just acquired Channel 9-1 and 9-2! Took three days and hours of tinkering. I have a new $25 RCA Amplified Indoor Antenna and a new DTV. Turning the VARIABLE GAIN CONTROL dial to the highest position did it. I just discovered the darn thing at the back of the base of the antenna. (There were no instructions in the box, just one sentence about it on the outside of the box.)

I can now get 32 channels here in Alexandria. Previously, the high number after various scans was 21. The signal strength is low on Channel 9, but at least it's there. I'll have to see if the signal strength has improved on the others I was already getting, but I expect some improvement. I can get both Channels 22 and 26. Hurray!

I've read nothing anywhere about turning up the variable gain control on the antenna, so I hope this helps someone else who might not know what the heck it is or where to look for the dial. This has been such a major pain!

Posted by: paulas1 | June 20, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

Hi Rob,
Thanks so much for keeping on top of this for us! Please don't give up, we need you! I live in DuPont Circle and also lost channels 7 and 9 on the day of the switch. I've been able to get channel 7 in the last day or two by moving the antenna near a window and pointing the poles north/south. BUT, then I lose Channel 5. So, I have to plan my viewing each night and move the antenna and scan accordingly. Hum. Btw, I'm using a brand new flat panel with a digital tuner with a uhf/vhf rca amplified indoor antenna.

Posted by: shukaidi | June 21, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Trying to get channels 7 and 9 is starting to remind me of tv in the 50's. Every channel required an antenna adjustment. I have channel 7 signal now but it's so pixilated and weak I can't tolerate it. Channel 9 is pretty much a gonner. If I try to adjust the antenna to get any channel 9 signal (not even watchable)everything else gets messed up. Hope channel 9 can do something on their end. I feel I have done what I can on my end but I'm not sinking any more money into the effort.

Posted by: tbva | June 22, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

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