Digital Switch Still Causing Problems for Some Viewers

All television broadcast outlets in the U.S. switched from analog to digital this past Friday. For most people the switch went unnoticed. But for those with older television sets, who failed to get a converter box, were unable to get a signal. Three days later, some are still unable to watch their favorite shows. Bill Stamps has more.

“Hit the menu, look up for auto scan or auto tune…”

Receptionist Sharon Cryder is on the phone with a viewer unable to tune into Houston’s Channel 8. The person has a digital converter box but still can’t get any channels.

“Then when it gets through scanning see if you have Channel 8. If that doesn’t work, do it again.”

The long awaited switch from analog to digital took place on Friday. Those who didn’t head the warnings and never bought a converter box found themselves unable to watch television this weekend…like the NBA Finals.

(Sound: Basketball: ‘Welcome to the NBA Finals”)

Channel 8’s Chief Engineer Marty Kirkland says there are many people — like the caller on the phone — who have a converter box, but may have problems if they live far from the station’s broadcast tower.

“When you get out into Kingwood, the Woodlands, Spring, Conroe, indoor antenna performance is just not getting enough signal.”

Not only that, he says new roofing materials may lead to bad signals as well.

“A lot of people have, had new roofing put on their homes after Hurricane Ike and they’ve been sold this radiant barrier technology to keep the attic cooler and that is a thin metallic shield that is a very effective shield to radio frequencies, so that keeps signals from getting into the home.”

Over at Best Buy there were people checking out the computers and home theater equipment but the chin high stack of digital converter boxes looked like it hadn’t been touched. Meantime in the Channel 8 lobby, Cryder is still on phone with that frustrated viewer.

“Has it finished scanning?”

Bill Stamps, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.