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MSTV Offers DTV Reception Suggestions

The Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) posted a Consumer Advisory: Proper Use of Indoor Antennas For Over-The-Air Television Reception [PDF] and Consumers Tips for DTV Reception on VHF TV Channels 2-13 [PDF].

These recommendations are based on the expertise and practical experience of broadcasters (represented by MSTV and NAB), the FCC, the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), the Consumer Electronics Retailers Coalition (CERC) and antenna manufacturers Antennas Direct, Audiovox, Channel Master and Winegard.

The indoor antenna consumer advisory is eight pages in length and takes consumers step-by-step through the process of determining what they need to do to get DTV reception. It describes how to determine what local TV stations may be available, how to determine what channels they are using, and the selection of an antenna capable of receiving those channels. The guide also offers practical tips, such as moving the antenna away from the TV set and placing it near a window.

The advisory suggests instances in which an amplifier might hurt reception (when a viewer's location is close to a broadcast tower), and when it might help (in receiving UHF stations located more than 15 miles away from the transmitter). Directional and non-directional antennas are compared.

The advisory strikes a good balance between being too simplistic to be useful and too complex for less technical readers to understand. If an outdoor antenna is required, the advisory reminds consumers that the FCC rules governing off-air reception generally prohibit local government and non-governmental authorities from preventing installation of an outdoor antenna.

The Consumer Tips for DTV Reception on VHF TV Channels 2-13 is much shorter—only two pages. However, it includes similar caveats: not locating indoor antennas on top of or near the TV set, cautions associated with the use of amplified antennas, FM interference to DTV stations operating on Channel 6, and instructions on how to make rough adjustments of the length of "rabbit ear" antennas. There's also a diagram showing how to hook up an indoor antenna to a converter box and how to connect the converter box to the analog TV set.

I recommend posting links to these documents on your station's Web site and perhaps printing a few copies to mail to viewers that don't have Internet access but want to receive your station.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.