Monday, March 01, 2010

See What You've Been Missing

With all the hype and advertising promoting cable TV and satellite services, it is interesting to me that many people still don’t realize that there are many channels available free over-the- air. In fact, since the digital conversion, the number of channels that most of us can get using an antenna and a digital TV or a digital converter box on our analog TV has gone from about 6 to 17 or more.

We are indeed creatures of habit and as such we tune in good old Channel 9 or 19 and may not think about the fact that these and most other channels have multiple offerings. For example, Fox 19 has two services. Channel 19.1 carries the traditional local news and the Fox network which they have carried for years. On Channel 19.2 there is a completely different service called THISTV. This second channel broadcasts mostly movies and some children’s programming.

On CET Channel 48 (full disclosure here, I work for CET) there are three discrete services. Channel 48.1 carries the traditional schedule of PBS programming. 48.2, with the moniker “CET Create,” has a 24/7 line up of “how-to-do-it” programs. Beginning February 1st, Channel 48.3 began “CET Arts,” a full schedule of programming spanning the visual and performing arts.

All of these channels can be received using a digital TV set and antenna. If you receive the primary channel, i.e., 5.1 or 9.1 etc., you can also get the additional channels. On most TVs and digital converter boxes, all you need to do is press the “Channel UP” button on the remote and you will see the additional channels.

Some of these channels are available also on cable but none of the additional channels are available on either the Dish or DirectTv satellite services. For example, the “CET Arts” service is available on the Time Warner Cable digital tier on Channel 987.

Even if you use a cable or satellite service, you can still set up your TV to receive over- the-air channels as well. For older sets it may require some cables and switches; for most new TV’s it only requires an antenna connected to the new TV and selecting the right input. If you want directions on how to do it just send me an email ( and I will send you the information. Be sure to tell me the type of TV you have and if you have a cable or satellite service.

Look around the over-the-air landscape, you may be surprised to see what you have been missing.

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