UPDATED Tuesday, February 17, 2009 --- 5:15 a.m.
NBC15 turned off its analog signal Monday night at 11:59 p.m.
If you are using a converter box or a digital TV, orient your antenna towards the west side of Madison. For more information concerning the DTV transition, converter boxes, and how you can continue to receive the station, call us at 608-274-1515, or to write us at 615 Forward Drive, Madison WI 53711. You can also call the Wisconsin Public Television DTV Hotline at 1-800-422-9707, or the FCC DTV Hotline at 1-888-CALLFCC (1-888-225-5322).
UPDATED Monday, February 16, 2009 --- 4:15 p.m.
Even if you are prepared for the D-TV switch there are still other factors you must take into consideration to make the transition a smooth one.
"This is the analog transmitter and basically we are just going to hit the off button at 11:59 tonight," said NBC-15 chief engineer Tom Weeden as he stood in the engineering room.
And when that happens analog television will end. Hopefully you are prepared with a converter box. But, even at that, problems can still arise, The biggest being your antenna.
Said Weeden, "Part of the challenge of digital television is that you have to get enough signal out of the air to present to your converter box or TV set to make a reliable picture."
A digital signal can be more difficult to pick up with certain antennas. Without getting into the technical aspects of it, you need to have a clean strong signal for the converter box to work.
With analog TV if you don't have a clear strong signal you could still get a snowy picture or a signal with multiple images in it, which is called ghosting. With digital television if you don't have a strong signal the converter box will crash and you get not picture at all.
"So it is important to make sure you have a good quality antenna that is getting as much out of the air as you can," added Weeden.
"If you are coming in to look for an antenna for a converter box one antenna to start with is just this basic one. It resembles more or less your rabbit ears," said Best Buy's Mike McWilliams holding the antenna. "It starts for about 10 dollars. The next one up is an amplified antenna. This one will plug into an outlet. It will give you a stronger signal. Start at about 40 dollars. If you are outside of 20 miles.
You want to make sure you look for one that will do that. It will say up to 45 miles within the major market. This should be a little bit stronger.
If you are outside of 45 miles from Madison you'll most likely need a roof antenna. Or, in just a few hours when that switch is hit, you'll be left in the dark.
One last thing to remember: It's important to buy an antenna from a store that takes returns, because it may take a few tries before you find an antenna that works.
UPDATED Saturday, February 14, 2009 --- 3:20 p.m.
WMTV NBC15 will end analog transmission on Monday. This is one day earlier than previously reported. The 24 hour time difference was made necessary due to a 30 day required notice to the Federal Communications Commission that occurred on January 16th.
***NOTE: The U.S. House vote to postpone the transition from analog to digital television broadcasting gives stations the option of switching sooner than June 12 if they choose. So many stations in the Madison television market will switch early. WMTV will end analog transmission on February 16th.
UPDATED Thursday, February 5, 2009 --- 3:15 p.m.
NBC 15 is shutting off its analog signal at the end of the day on February 16th, along with the other major broadcast stations in Madison. This, even though congress voted yesterday to extend the digital transition to June 12th. And as NBC 15's Michelle Riell reports, There are still hundreds of digital converter boxes available in town that are simple to install.
After February 16th, if you have an analog TV or rooftop antenna, you will need a converter box to continue watching this station and many others. Mike McWilliams says, "Everything is labeled, they give you pretty easy instructions, the menu just pops out right at you, so it's pretty easy to follow." McWilliams is with Best Buy and takes some of the fear and confusion out of setting up a digital converter box. McWilliams says, "With the converter box, you'll get the cables and the remote control and you'll get the instruction guide."
First things first, plug in the converter box. Then, McWilliams says, "Hook up your coax cable. to the back, where it says to TV... then in the back of the TV, right where you plug in coax cable or your regular antenna, just hook that coax cable to it."
After that, take the color coated cables and hook them into their appropriate spots in the digital converter box and in the back of your TV. McWilliams says, "If you do have an existing antenna, you want to make sure it has this end on it, which is a coaxial cable... so you just hook this, into the back of the converter box and it's labeled antenna in." McWilliams also recommends you use an antenna with your converter box for best quality.
Next, power on your TV. Select input on the remote control, follow the menu set-up and then wait as the converter box searches for the channels. McWilliams says, "Overall it tends to be a pretty simple process."
Within about five minutes, you'll have a crisper picture, cleaner sound and still be able to catch all your favorite NBC 15 programming.
You can request a government coupon for 40 dollars off a digital converter box through March 31st by calling 1-888-DTV-2009 or by logging onto www.dtv2009.gov. Many coupons that have already been issued expire soon, so check the date. Best Buy says it has a lot of converters in stock, but will not take coupons after the expiration date.