The transition to all-digital television occurred on Friday, June 12, 2009. Most viewers in the Quad City television market made it through the transition without any major disruptions but for some, reception issues remain.
Antennas: Because there are now both UHF and VHF signals in the Quad City market, the antenna you are using must be capable of receiving both UHF and VHF signals. Because all stations were UHF before the transition, there were many UHF-only antennas marketed and sold as "digital" or "HD" antennas. Unfortunately, those antennas are largely incapable of receiving WHBF-TV's VHF signal.
VHF Signals: WHBF-TV opted to return to the VHF spectrum because, as a rule, VHF signals start out stronger and travel further in the open air than UHF signals. What they don't do as well is penetrate structures, like houses, apartment buildings and other high-rises. As a result, outdoor antennas are strongly recommended for the reception of low-band VHF signals.
Still, recognizing the problems viewers were having, WHBF-TV petitioned the Federal Communications Commission for permission to make two important changes:
First, on September 8, 2009, WHBF-TV increased the Effective Radiated Power of our VHF signal by almost 65%. We continue to operate at the maximum signal strength currently allowed by the FCC.
Second, on October 22, 2009, WHBF-TV launched a low-power UHF (translator) signal from our tower in Bettendorf. This should allow households living within approximately 15 miles of downtown Rock Island to access a UHF version of our signal using an indoor (or outdoor) antenna.
Re-scanning: It is important to re-scan for channels at regular intervals to be sure that you are receiving all of the digital channels at their new locations. It may even be necessary to "restore factory settings" on your converter box to effectively erase its channel memory before rescanning.
The FCC is currently focused on consumer-based fixes for reception problems, including promoting what it is calling the “double-rescan”. Digital televisions, and especially converter boxes, sometimes develop a channel memory which can prevent it from finding the local channels. You can re-boot the device using the following procedures.
1) Disconnect the antenna from the television/converter box
2) Re-scan for channels (with no antenna attached, you will likely get none)
3) Turn off the television/converter box and unplug from power source
4) After 5 minutes, plug the television/converter box back in and reconnect the antenna
5) Re-scan for channels
If you need guidance on antenna-related issues, we encourage you to visit www.antennaweb.org or call Warren Electronics in Moline at 309-743-0383. Other antenna resources are available by contacting Channel Master at 1-877-746-7261 or online at www.ChannelMasterStore.com. If you order an antenna from Channel Master before March 31, 2010 you can use coupon code: broadcastspecial for a 10% discount.
If you have other general questions about the conversion, converter boxes, or the re-scanning process, you can still reach the FCC hotline at:
Or you can reach us at WHBF:
J.D. Walls, Operations Manager - Ext. 206
Ron Schmidt, Chief Engineer - Ext. 305
Marshall Porter, General Manager - Ext. 101
Below you will also find phone numbers and websites where you can find additional resources:
Government Coupon Program
Converter Box Tech Support
Best Buy, Insignia NS-DXA1-APJ - 1-877-467-4289
Best Buy, APEX DT-250 - 1-866-427-3946
Circuit City/KMart/Radio Shack, Zenith DTT901 - 1-877-993-6484
Radio Shack, Digital STream DTX9950 - 1-866-706-4367
Sears, DTV Pal - 1-888-667-0633
Sears, Magnavox E175216 - 1-800-605-8610
Target, GE Smart Digital Converter Box - 1-800-654-8483
Target, Sansonic FT-300A - 1-626-433-1333
Walmart, Magnavox TB100MW9 - 1-800-605-8610