Saturday, September 16, 2006

WETA Followup

After calling WETA the other day and talking to Daniel McCoy at WETA I received a reply posted below.

While the reasons stated in this email are interesting, I still contend they are shortsighted and problematic. For instance:

  1. When all analog broadcasts go dark in 2009, will WETA still persist in not broadcasting their primary programming via DTV OTA? Doesn't that cut out a lot of viewers that only view OTA signals?
  2. What about when more devices such as phones and personal computers have the capability to view DTV transmissions? Doesn't that unnecessarily cut off these potential viewers?
  3. Some people like myself can get excellent DTV OTA reception of WETA's signal. On the other hand, WETA's analog signal is prone to multipath in my location and can become unwatchable at times.

Here is the official WETA response:

Dear Mr. Barker,

Thank you for watching WETA, and for taking the time to write about the recent change our digital programming.  I appreciate the opportunity to respond.

Until this past week, we were simulcasting our analog signal on channel 26.1 from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m. Mon. through Fri., and 6 a.m. – 12 noon on weekends as part of the 4-Standard Definition (SD) daytime lineup.  We would then slide the simulcast service to channel 26.2 for prime time and overnight (6 p.m. – 6 a.m. M-F, 12 p.m. – 6 a.m. weekends) as part of the 1-HD/1-SD evening lineup.  That simulcast was originally set up to comply with FCC regulations requiring a simulcast service.  Recent relaxations of these requirements and improved technology have allowed us to expand our digital broadcast and provide all of our digital channels 24/7 without a simulcast of our analog signal.

We have recently put new digital encoders online, which has enhanced our digital offerings in two ways.  First, it has improved compression rates, while maintaining picture quality, which allows us to broadcast our 1 HD channel and 3 SD channels 24 hours a day. Second, it simplifies operation of the automation and encoding systems by providing service 24 hours a day on all four digital channels.  This also simplifies the Electronic Program Guide for both off-air and cable systems as no program service "jumps" channels any longer.  The technology of the new encoders also leaves room for more improvement in signal quality, so we expect things to improve over time.

Unfortunately for some, this expansion of service does not allow room a simulcast of TV26 on our digital channels.  Viewers can always tune into our analog broadcast of channel 26, but will now also have the opportunity to see HD programming 24/7 and variety of other digital programs through the night.  We hope you find some new programs that you will enjoy as we expand our program offerings.
If you have any further questions or comments, please let me know.

Thank you again for watching WETA.


Daniel P. McCoy
Audience Services Coordinator

Thursday, September 07, 2006

WETA Abandons Analog Simulcast on DTV 26-2

I just got off the phone with a person named Daniel at the WETA offices. He confirmed that WETA has permanently abandoned simulcasting their main programming analog feed on OTA DTV channel 26-2 or any other sub channel. I asked the reasoning for this change and he could not provide a one.

I told him I felt this was a stunningly bad decision and would result in my being unable to watch his channel's main programming since I only watch DTV (SD & HDTV) OTA to the exclusion of analog broadcasts. He said he would relay my feedback but I don't have much confidence it will have any impact.

This change in programming makes no sense whatsoever. It's as if WTTG decided to only show the Fox News cable on their DTV transmission.

I suggested that someone from WETA's engineering staff monitor the AVS Forum for valuable feedback about how their DTV OTA signal is being received and critiqued.

This is one of the strangest developments I have yet to encounter in the forced march to DTV transmissions in 2009.