NEWS AND VIEWS                     
September 6, 2006 update

Mike and Laurel Kohl
S-9141 State Highway 23
Plain, Wisconsin   53577-9612



September 6, 2006

Well, our hot and steamy summer was good for growing weeds, and did produce a bumper crop of berries.  Now we have to contemplate not only cutting and splitting some more firewood for winter, but how to get rid of those out-of-control weeds.  At least I don't have 10 and 11 foot ragweed plants in the septic system drainfield this year....we killed 'em early, and what remains is probably only up to the waist.  At some point, there's going to be "normal" grass out there, but not this year.  Living in the country does have its challenges at times.

Where do we begin to recap this year's communications news without missing something important?  I'll try and I'm certain I will also accomplish to miss something important.  It's down to D-Day for DISH Network vs. the Networks, and most parties have been agreeing to settle a many years old legal case.  The evil lawyers at DirecTV and/or parent company are playing hardball, and refusing to give DISH Network permission to carry over two dozen Fox Network owned-and-operated stations.  DirecTV is buying ads warning people that if they have DISH Network, their "distant networks" are going away, and that they can not only possibly have them with DirecTV, but a $150 bounty is yours for switching.  It's getting very ugly, and the court system(s) may not hear the end of this for months or years.  Both Democratic and Republican Congressmen from the State of Colorado have jointly requested an investigation of the whole stinking mess, and DirecTV / Fox may finally get some undeserved attention about caring more about profits, weakening their competitor DISH Network, than for folks in rural America that may get shafted if the present legal momentum goes wrong.  I cannot say any more...just keep looking at the newspapers every day;  you're bound to hear something new.

The demise of UPN and WB networks is upon us, and the confusion ramping up to the start of the new CW network as well as Fox's spin-off "My TV" network, and a few other things will become more clear in coming days.  Equity Broadcasting in Arkansas had a number of WB and UPN affiliates on satellite Galaxy 10R Ku-band, and very few of them will be going the CW route.  A number of them will affiliate with My-TV, which is a totally untested concept that is gambling on the English language equivalent of Spanish novellas, or soap operas, in two hours of prime time.  Maybe OK for the 20-something kids, but definitely nothing I am interested in.  Equity is also converting some of these stations to RTN (Retro TV Network), and has plans for a national availability of the network sometime in the near future.  The programming mix has been changed, so we won't see Hogan's Heroes in the near future, but a number of older popular shows will resurface, including Get Smart, Mission: Impossible, and others.  G10R will continue to be a busy satellite for us Anglos.

Strange things are happening over at 87 West, with the 12110 and 12128 MHz PBS groups going off the air at the end of October.  And a group of national PBS feeds formerly on Digicipher 2 are now in clear MPEG-2 at 12179 MHz vertical, although audio is in AC-3 format.  Montana PBS changed frequencies to 12145 MHz, and is now coming in stronger than ever.  Those wanting educational TV for the winter should not have to work too hard to get AMC-3 (87 West, Ku-band), based upon these new developments.

SatMex 6 at 113.0 West is loading up with a variety of Spanish language programming from Mexico and other countries on C-band.  Three separate C-band beams are offered, with C1 and C2 beam channels coming in fairly strong in the U.S.  There is a South American "C3" beam that does not work here, and I just noticed a pair of channels that had been coming in from Paraguay are no longer available.  It will continue to evolve, and side-by-side C-band signals from SatMex 5 and 6 should provide 40, if not 50 channels from Latin America in short order.  Add the booty on 55.5 West / Intelsat 805 and those on NSS-806 (40.5 West), and there is definitely no shortage of signals for our Spanish speaking friends.

Those of you starting to jump into High Definition and Multicast Digital local reception might be interested in a special purchase that we have just made.  WINEGARD amplified Bat-wing VHF-UHF antennas, including power supply, for only 25.00 each, plus shipping.  Quantity discounts available.
In our local (Madison, Wisconsin) market, we have an unusual mix that will still use VHF channel 11 for WMSN-FOX Digital and the TUBE video music channel.  Everything else will transmit on UHF.  Unless you are blocked by terrain, we have found this combo amplified antenna very much up to the task of getting all local VHF and UHF signals, even some 40 miles away from the transmitters.  While it will not perform miracles, it may be a very cheap and effective solution for suburban reception and beyond, and could be hidden in a closet inside the house for better digital reception than you might expect from normal rabbit ears.

Those of you considering the new fall TV season (from whatever network you want to watch) should remember that winter is not that far away.  If you need to make improvements in your reception system, be it a new off air antenna and/or digital converter, or more satellite equipment, think about doing it soon.  It's usually a lot easier to crimp cables and turn wrenches BEFORE American Thanksgiving.  Canadian Thanksgiving (2nd Monday in October) just gives us a reminder that frost will be our companion for the next five or six months.  Put things off too long, and things may get uncomfortable.

UNTIL Next Time,