In this report
Keep an older TV working
Get a coupon
Best digital converters
Antennas and setup
If at first you don’t succeed...
Digital dead zones
Beware of marketing ploys
Cut cable costs
Also in This Issue
This article was featured in the March 2009 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine.

Digital dead zones

You might be unable to get some stations—or any at all—no matter what you do. In many areas, the "contour," or footprint, of digital coverage differs from the analog version, so digital broadcasts might not reach all the areas that got the analog signals. If your neighbors get a station you can't, it's probably your setup. But if nobody can get it, call the local station to find out why.

During the nation's first DTV trial, in Wilmington, N.C., last fall, many consumers couldn't get digital versions of analog stations they'd gotten for years, even though the converters and antennas were set up correctly. One-third of calls to public-service agencies concerned the "disappearance" of a local NBC affiliate, which is still unavailable. Wilmington isn't alone. Many readers of our blog (at say they have lost stations.

The Federal Communications Commission recently ruled that stations can use a network of digital transmitters, rather than one tower, to extend digital coverage, but critics say it's too little, too late. It allows, but doesn't require, broadcasters to apply for a waiver to use a network, and it's unlikely work will be done by Feb. 17.

Posted: February 2009 — Consumer Reports Magazine issue: March 2009