NEWS AND VIEWS
          April 3, 2009

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



April 3, 2009

Summer arrived briefly about 2 weeks ago, when we had a St Patrick's Day with 70-degree F temperatures.  Unbelievable and temporary.  That week of nice weather made a nice welcome to spring, although we've had some white-colored setbacks since then, with 4 or 5 more inches of snow predicted later this weekend.  It could be worse, as folks in the Dakotas and Minnesota had up to 20 inches of snow the other day, while we had rain.  Anyone expecting a clean break from winter to spring is usually going to be disappointed!

I did get some things done during that brief period of warm weather.  Thought it a good idea to remove some unneeded things on top of our tower, and re-arrange the off-air TV antenna system, in time for the completion of the digital transition.  Eventually all broadcasters in the Madison, Wisconsin market will be on UHF---therefore no need to maintain separate UHF and VHF antennas.  Our local analog channel 3 has been fulfilling its "nightlight" obligations since February 17th, so when it disappears soon there will be no more analog locally on VHF.
  The local PBS affiliate will be turning off its analog signals in a few days, with the final transition being our Fox affiliate---now transmitting on analog 47 and digital 11.  On or about June 12th it is scheduled to fire up digital on UHF-49.  A pity for digital coverage in outlying areas, as VHF-11 was much better for getting out through the hills.  Sometime during the month of May we should see a boost in signal coverage for the local NBC affiliate on digital-19.  It is temporarily constrained by the presence of an analog signal in LaCrosse, Wisconsin--also on 19.  Once they shut off analog in LaCrosse, our NBC station will be able to crank up the power as well as increase the height above ground.  Step by step, it keeps getting better.  I removed all TV antennas, including a 10-element high band VHF for channel 11 (Fox), other than an ancient 5-foot Parabolic UHF antenna which has been raised to the top of our tower and put into full service for ALL Madison stations.  It even works for getting VHF-11, while it is there temporarily until June.  Consolidating TV reception will simplify things here, and allow the elimination of a lot of clutter from extra wires, etc.  Satellite antennas are dangerous to maintain at the top of the tower, and often inaccessable during the winter.  I'm adding a bench at the next level down from the top to provide a relaxing vantage point for watching wildlife from a still-elevated location.  A lot of time and expense went into building the entire contraption;  now is the time to make it functional as well as "pretty". 

Pansat has just released a new MPEG-2 receiver that gets high marks from this reviewer.  It uses a similar "ALI Editor" program for maintaining satellite and channel lists via computer, and has an extremely fast processor.  Maybe not as perfectly set up in this version as what I am familiar with on the Traxis DBS-3500, but it has two things that the Traxis does not....a VHF modulator as well as a USB port that allows connection of devices such as memory sticks or external hard drives for a DVR (digital video recorder) function.  Quite a combination and only 149.00 plus shipping!  We'll be happy to supply an editor program as well as a setup satellite and channel file for our customers.  Pansat definitely has a winner with this new product.  See our MPEG-2 section for full details and specifications.

THIS TV continues to expand its national ad-supported movie channel.  Soon available in Minnesota's Iron Range and in Duluth-Superior.  Already on the air and available to most of Wisconsin.  Adding more affiliates every week around the country, with a few new Equity Broadcasting stations transmitting this service on Ku-band / 123 West (Galaxy 18) for Free-To-Air satellite reception.

We continue to update our Off-Air Television section with more information as digital channels are added, and new digital facilities go on the air.  For the benefit of our Madison, Wisconsin area viewers, here is an updated listing of permanent digital channels after June 12th.

UHF-19    15.1 WMTV-NBC (HD)    15.2  News & Weather
UHF-20    21.1 WHA-PBS (HD)     21.2  Wisconsin Channel    21.3  Create
UHF-26    27.1 WKOW-ABC (HD)    27.2  RTN-Retro TV Network    27.3  THIS TV
UHF-32    57.1 WBUW-CW (HD)
UHF-49    47.1 WMSN-FOX (HD)
UHF-50     3.1 WISC-CBS (HD)    3.2 My Network TV

That's 12 sources of TV so far in our market.  Six in High Definition, and an interesting mix of standard definition multicast channels.
Bigger cities such as Milwaukee and Chicago have two and three times (respectively) the number of digital channels as we enjoy. 
While there may have been hiccups getting this digital system going, I am optimistic that it will turn out to be an excellent delivery system at the end of the transition away from analog broadcasting.

STAR CHOICE news from Canada.  On the negative side, viewers subscribing to the Buffalo, New York network standard definition affiliates will lose them after April 30th, when all East Coast SD feeds will be transferred to Detroit (ABC-NBC-CBS-PBS) and Rochester, NY (Fox).  Those with HD equipment will still get Detroit and Seattle networks as before.  Spokane and Seattle standard definition remains unchanged.  Reason for this transfer of resources is supposed to free up some space for a new HD channel or two.  Let's hope they are worth losing a choice in East Coast reception.

In other news, Bob Cooper turns 71 this week, and to celebrate he has published his last monthly newsletter, which has been written as a continuation of his SatFacts Magazine, which ended a year ago.  Bob wants to put all of his efforts into publishing a collection of books on the satellite industry, so he's not really putting down the keyboard.  Just focusing on what he feels need to be accomplished while he's still "young" enough to do so.  Stay tuned---we will let you know when his new publications become available.

Until next time,