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New study foresees DTV reception difficulties

More than half of over-the-air (OTA) TV viewers nationwide live in areas where reception of DTV signals will be challenging, according to new research from Centris.

Of the nation’s 17 million OTA TV households, 9.2 million could experience DTV reception problems, Centris said.

The study provides an in-depth look on a national level at the scale of the issue and identifies the top 10 cities in the country that have the most consumers at risk. They include (in descending order beginning with the highest risk):

  • New York
  • Boston (Manchester)
  • Philadelphia
  • Los Angeles
  • Washington, D.C. (Hagerstown)
  • Seattle-Tacoma
  • San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose
  • Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Atlanta
  • Cleveland-Akron (Canton)

In February, Centris released a limited study revealing for the first time likely reception gaps. Broadcast industry associations refuted those findings, saying the study’s methodology was flawed.

The new national study reveals “exact figures for the number of at-risk households down to individual census block groups,” said Centris executive VP David Klein. The data reveal that DTV signal coverage will be “significantly more limited than currently anticipated,” he said.

Increased risk depends on the local terrain, distance from towers and the sensitivity of the consumer’s existing home antenna. “Challenging reception” in this context refers to consumers who will receive four or fewer broadcast TV stations if they only have a small or medium omnidirectional rooftop antenna or if they have an indoor antenna.

Centris forecasts that 24 percent of consumers in difficult reception areas who only have an indoor antenna or a small or medium omnidirectional antenna will receive no channels and a further 10 percent will receive only one channel.

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