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Recption FAQS

Over-the-Air reception of San Diego 6's HDTV digital broadcasts

Cable Reception of San Diego 6's HDTV broadcasts

Satellite Reception of San Diego 6

 

Other Technical Questions About our Broadcasts

Got a question for our Engineering department? Ask it here.


 

About Over-the-Air reception of San Diego 6's digital broadcasts

Are you broadcasting in high definition?

Yes, we broadcast all available HDTV shows from the CW Network. In order to watch our HDTV broadcasts, you must have a TV or monitor capable of displaying high definition video, and a set-top box or integrated tuner to convert the signals to video and audio. If you are watching a new flat-screen TV using a cable, satellite, or over-the-air tuner, make sure you are using the proper HDMI or component (RED, GREEN, and BLUE) cables. Regular video cables with the yellow-end connectors won't carry high definition video.

Our high definition format is 1080i. That's 1080 lines of resolution with interlaced scanning. You don't have to know what that means to enjoy the sharpness and clarity of the picture.

Can I receive your digital broadcasts over-the-air with my old TV set?

Yes you can! Note that this won't be HDTV (high definition), but with a DTV converter you should be able to receive very clear, sharp picture with your old TV. Just go to an electronics supplier and buy a DTV converter that will take our channel 23 digital signal and convert it to audio and video for your older TV. With a good antenna system, you will get far better pictures than you were accustomed to watching before. They won't be in high definition, but if you are happy with the picture, so are we. The Zenith and Insignia brands (both made by LG Electronics) get particularly good reviews. The Channel Master CM-7000 even has an S-video output that will give superior pictures if your set has an S-video jack.

I can't receive your digital station over-the-air even though I get many or all of the others. Any advice?

We're on UHF channel 23 broadcasting from Mt. San Antonio in Tijuana, Mexico, using full legal power of 403kW ERP, directed primarily northward. On most digital receivers, our digital channel will be displayed as "6.1" or "6-1." Our analog channel will be displayed as "6" or "6-0". San Diego viewers can receive local digital TV signals over-the-air using a relatively small antenna. Receiving all stations at the same time can be challenging because unlike most cities, San Diego area digital TV stations are currently located on three separate mountains.

If you don't want to hire a professional, your first step should be to predict what kind of reception you could get from your home. Go to Antennaweb.org and click on "Choose an antenna." Enter your home address (email address and other information is not required). You will receive a list of TV stations the computer predicts you can receive at your home address, and in what directions those stations reside. In all cases, you may be able to receive all stations listed with the largest of antennas and a rotator you're willing to control when you change station. That's worst case.

Many of you will get a chart from Antennaweb.org that shows only purple. You live in a canyon or behind a mountain. You will embrace cable or satellite TV. Get to know and love your cable or satellite TV box. It is your friend. You will likely be frustrated if you attempt to receive TV over-the-air, even with an outdoor antenna on a giant tower.

Another, more technically oriented signal finder webpage is TVFool.com. You'll get of a complete list of stations that you may or may not be able to receive from your location, but with a well-designed antenna system, you should be able to receive the stations listed above an NM (dB) value of 0. Any station with a "C" listed on the left side may take a high performance antenna, or be altogether impractical to receive. This site will even tell you how high you should place your antenna to get line-of-sight reception. They don't give you any advice on antennas, though, assuming instead that you already know what to use.

Let's say you live in central San Diego, or somewhere between Clairemont or Tierrasanta to the north and National City to the SDSU area south. Add, perhaps, Chula Vista and the higher elevations of Mira Mesa and Scripps Ranch. You can install a relatively small Channel Master HD-1080 or Winegard HD7694P or similar for channels 7 - 69.

as long as you don't live in a canyon. You'll need either a rotator to orient these antennas to the different transmitter sites, or you will need separate UHF and VHF antennas (see below about this option). Canyon dwellers please use a cable, fiber, or satellite provider.

If you live north of Encinitas or Poway, you need to take special care to receive our DTV signal. This includes the communities of Oceanside, Fallbrook, Carlsbad, and Escondido, and the higher elevation homes in San Marcos, Valley Center, and points between. Pay close attention here.

Two TV stations in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties interfere with our signal enough in North San Diego County that you need an antenna that does a superior job of rejecting signals from the back side. Many common antennas do a good job of receiving signals from the front, but a poor job of rejecting signals from the back. You need both. One antenna that does both is the Terrestrial Digital 91XG. It's sister, the 43XG, is smaller and should work well if you are on a big hill or toward the south end of the fringe zone in Encinitas or Poway.

Note that some DTV stations are now on VHF. North County residents using the 91XG or 43XG antennas will have to install a second, VHF antenna in order to receive all stations. For that job, you can use your old all-channel antenna if you still have it (you can even cut off the stubby UHF elements on that antenna). Or buy a new VHF antenna. For channels 7 - 13, we recommend the Winegard YA1713, AntennaCraft Y10-7-13, or AntennasDirect ClearStream C5. If you use separate UHF and VHF antennas this way, you will also need a small, inexpensive UHF/VHF combiner. Here's an alternate combiner.

Unfortunately, the best outdoor antennas and accessories are not readily available. Elkays Electronics and AmeriSat in Kearny Mesa, and Willy's Electronics in Kearny Mesa or National City are the only places we know of locally that carry these fine antennas. Fry's Electronics is starting to stock the smaller antennas listed here. If you are buying at a home projects or another electronics store, you have the wrong antenna. Other specialized antennas are available via mailorder.

Please don't use an indoor antenna because you will only be frustrated with how poorly it works. If you live upstairs in a wooden home in University Heights, go ahead and try one. Otherwise, just say no. If you are renting and can't install an outdoor antenna, pay the $13 per month for basic cable.

May I install an antenna even if I live in a subdivision with homeowner's restrictions on roof-mounted antennas?

Yes, usually you may. The FCC Telecommunications Act of 1996 preempts local governance of outdoor antennas with few exceptions. The FCC has a useful information page where you can learn more. I don't need to tell you that it's a good idea to work with your landlord or homeowner's association first to head off a nasty battle. Sometimes when that sewer backs up, it's good to have friends in high places, if you know what I mean.

See information above regarding choosing an antenna.

Can I get help installing an antenna?

Look at "Antennas" in the telephone book Yellow Pages™. Many of these listings are for satellite antenna installers, but some of those are pros at installing over-the-air antennas as well.

Where can I find advice about my HDTV installation?

A tremendous resource for San Diego viewers is on the web at http://hdtv.forsandiego.com. There's a wealth of useful information for best ways of dealing with reception in your neighborhood, and sticky issues with bleeding edge equipment.


About Cable Reception

On which cable systems can I receive San Diego 6's HDTV signals?

Cox Cable and Time Warner Cable in San Diego County and Cablemas in Tijuana carry our digital transmissions.

Will it cost extra to receive cable HDTV?

If you want the most convenient reception or recording capabilities, you will need a cable company-supplied set-top box that you will have to pay a small rental fee for. If you consider how fast technology changes, this rental fee may actually be the most economical way to view HDTV signals.

In theory, your local digital TV stations are available to subscribers of the very lowest tier of service at about $12 per month. At that cost, you would have to provide your own set-top box or TV with built-in QAM tuner. Support for reception this way is poor, and you may be required to re-scan for stations when the cable company re-allocates channels. But if you are cheap and enjoy the challenge of "beating the system," you could do worse. Some TVs, notably Sony, now offer built-in DTV tuners with CableCard slots. These TVs can receive free HDTV channels without external boxes. Adding a cable TV company furnished CableCard will allow you to access pay channels without an external set-top box, but do know that cable companies are working hard to make these CableCARD devices obsolete, so their support may wane soon.


About Satellite Reception of San Diego 6

Can I receive San Diego 6's HDTV signals via satellite?

Yes you can! We're on both DirecTV and Dish Network.

In order to receive local HDTV stations including San Diego 6 via DirecTV, you need a special five-LNB dish and receiver. You can get these from your DirecTV supplier. You cannot receive our HD signal via satellite unless you have this special equipment.

May I get a waiver so that I can watch East Coast TV?

No. Sorry.

All of the local TV stations just went blank on my satellite dish. What happened?

There are are just a few reasons why you might experience a complete loss of signal:

  • Your puppy just chewed through the cable.
  • In a torrential downpour of rain, large droplets absorb much of the satellite beam.
  • Twice a year, the sun lines up with the satellite in such a way that the sun overpowers your satellite receiver with radio signals. This occurs for about 10-15 minutes during midday for a few days in March and October.
  • Big gusts of wind can blow your receive dish out of alignment.

 


About Other San Diego 6 Technical Questions

Why is there so much difference between soft and loud parts of your programming? Why are commercials so loud?

With TV viewing approaching the experience of a movie theater, there is much greater dynamic range with digital television. We understand that this does not please everyone. There are ways to defeat this in order to make whispers the same audio level as the music crescendos. Many current TVs and many amplifiers have a built-in limiter so that you can change the dynamic range to meet your own taste or lifestyle circumstances. Check out your manuals or your remote control menu to see if you have a NIGHT or LIMITER or AUTOMATIC VOLUME CONTROL listening mode option.

Also, make sure if you are using a theater sound system on which you don't have SURROUND mode engaged while listening to TV when a specific surround program is not being broadcast. SURROUND mode greatly distorts the presentation of stereo material, and will boost the music unnaturally, burying the dialog. Use STEREO mode except for network programs with Dolby Digital 5.1. If you have connected your TV to your audio amplifier using an optical or coaxial digital link, your amplifier should be able to switch to the proper mode automatically.

Note that we do not control audio from network HDTV programming--content passes through our systems without altering either audio or video.

Rarely, people will have their stereo systems miswired such that the speakers are out-of-phase or their middle front speaker is missing from their surround sound system. Either of these conditions will cause the stereo music of a commercial to be MUCH louder than the monaural speech during the news. During sports, it will sound as if the announcer's audio is being buried in music and crowd noise. If your middle speaker is missing, either install it or run your amplifier in STEREO mode rather than in SURROUND mode. If you have stereo speakers out-of-phase, you can fix it by swapping the + and - terminals on one of the speakers at either the speaker or amplifier end. If you still aren't satisfied, you need the help of the nearest available geek relative.

Commercials are often designed by their producers to be loud. They may have their dynamic range greatly reduced to make them "stand out" in a sea of different sounds. We limit every audio source to be no louder than a certain amount, but when commercial sound editors record audio that is on average much louder than the average dialog level of other programming, there's not a lot we can do.

Can I watch or listen to San Diego 6 on my computer using an internet stream?

Due to copyright issues with all of our commercial, network, and syndication providers, San Diego 6 cannot provide full-time streaming audio and/or video at this time. Some of our local newscasts are streamed.


Still need help?


Have a technical question not answered above, or just want to give us your feedback? Email our Engineering Department at ITDepartment@sandiego6.com