Iowa Public Television

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

DTV is Wireless, Cool and Free!

I recently read an article in the Sun Sentinel newspaper out of Fort Lauderdale, FL. The article was noting that in these tight economic times many people are looking for ways to save money and among the consideration is dropping subscription based cable or satellite services. When I have discussed this with folks in meetings it is interesting the reactions that I see.

Younger people are virtually oblivious to the fact that there is free wireless television. All their lives, the television has been connected to a wall plate that was connected to the cable head end so they have no experience. Middle aged people remember when they had an antenna on their roof hooked to their television but probably went to cable to get some add on services that were available via cable and the side benefit was that the cable also carried the local broadcast stations and they didn't have to worry about an antenna anymore and they have kind of forgotten about the free wireless nature of broadcast television.

If you're a basic cable subscriber, I would recommend that you keep a log for a month or so of your television viewing and determine how much time you actually spend watching local broadcast channels versus cable only channels. But don't just track the time, also grade the content you watched to determine if the viewing was a good use of your time. If you find that the majority of your good viewing time was spent watching broadcast television, then you may want to consider dropping your paid service in favor of the free over the air service. You may actually find that you get more out of the free service than you get from the basic paid service.

As an example, in the Des Moines area where I live, we have PBS, ABC, CBS, NBC, MNT, CW, ION and FOX network affiliates. The majority of these stations are broadcasting multiple services so there are probably 14 or 15 free channels to choose from. The primary channels probably carry the content that you watch the majority of the time and the ancillary channels carry additional services that may be of interest. My own station carries a full time HD feed of PBS and two ancillary services, one called Kid/Create which offers kids programming and how-to programs and the other IPTV/World is news and information programming. All of it available for free and from my experience, the HD content delivered is typically better than what is delivered via the subscription based services.

If you're happy with your subscription based services, that is great. But if you're looking for a way to trim expenses, dropping the pay service could save some money and may not be as big a sacrifice as you think.



Anonymous said...

hi bill-
i live in iowa city, near UIHC, and i get absolutely NO reception whatsoever with an INDOOR antenna and a DTV box. we have tried several indoor antennas; none have worked. i absolutely do not want to pay for cable or satellite, but have yet to find an outdoor alternative so we can just receive PBS like we used to before the switch. could you possibly recommend what type of OUTDOOR (i'm guessing that's what we need) antenna we need to get in order to receive the signal?

Bill Hayes said...

First let me apologize for the extraordinary delay in getting this answered. For some reason this was held in spam and not delivered to me. Based on the infromation that you have provided it is difficult to recommend a specific antenna but based on your general location, any outdoor antenna capable of receiving VHF channel 12 should be able to pick up our Iowa City DTV service. I would suggest that you even try taking one of the indoor antennas that you already have and temporarily outside to verify that you can get the service. If that works, a more permanent installation on the roof of your home would restore the service.

Anonymous said...

Our DTV reception in Fort Dodge was fine for all networks and IPTV until the day in June 2009 when it went officially nationwide. Since then, power was reduced on ABC and NBC from Des Moines. We do receive CBS and IPTV and also Fox (17) plus 19-1 (THIS) and 23-1. But we no longer receive ABC and receive NBC only occasionally. We use a roof antenna with an amplifier. Any way to improve our reception?