Live 5 WCSC Holding Antenna Giveaway

Still having trouble adjusting to digital television? Live 5 WCSC is holding a free over-the-air digital TV antenna giveaway on Wednesday.

It’ll happen right outside our main studios on Charlie Hall Boulevard in West Ashley at lunchtime.

A DTV Education bus making stops across the country will pull into the Lowcountry with $15,000 worth of antennas to give away. From 10:30am until 12:30pm (and while supplies last) visitors will receive an antenna and get information on how to use them. You’ll also be able to ask questions you have about digital television.

For some families hit hard by the economy, they haven’t been able to afford a digital antenna, but are also facing the decision to end their cable or satellite service to cut monthly costs.

Families without newer digital television sets would not receive any local stations without an antenna if they discontinued their cable or satellite service.

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Big Switch A Success, FCC Says

Now that The Big Switch to digital is finally over, the FCC is saying that things went pretty smoothly around the country as 971 television stations shut down their analog signals.

BIGSWITCH_LOGOTV Newsday reports that of the more than 300,000 calls to the agency’s hotline, nearly 30 percent concerned problems with converter boxes that were resolved by telling viewers utilize the “rescan” function.

That’s the same advice we gave Friday morning during our morning news as the shutdown occurred live on the air.

Here at LIVE 5 WCSC, we were preparing for the worst: much of our staff, both our on-air staff and the folks behind the scenes like me, your blog editor, went through training to help us prepare for a possible flood of calls.

But the Lowcountry was well-prepared for The Big Switch: we received only a handful of calls all day long. In fact, the majority of calls we received shortly after we went all digital came from viewers who were calling to tell us that they were receiving our digital signal with no problem.

Just last night, though, I went to a big-name discount store for a few items and noticed that a customer ahead of me was buying a DTV converter box. It was an interesting reminder that not everyone was ready before the switch happened, even with more than a year of reminders on the air and on our main website, live5news.com.

I hope you’re enjoying our all-digital broadcasts! Thanks, as always, for watching LIVE 5 WCSC.

D-Day!

It’s D-Day at LIVE 5 WCSC.  Digital Television Day, that is.

It’s the day we’ve been talking about for more than a year now, the day we usher in a federally-mandated transition to a different way of broadcasting.

BIGSWITCH_LOGO

At 6:00am, Bill Burr and Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh pressed a button to shut down the analog broadcast at our transmitter site in Awendaw, ushering in a new era of digital-only broadcasting for the television station.

Walsh_Burr_BigSwitch“Right now, we’ll say Channel 5 is now alive in the new century, as we broadcast in digital television,” Walsh said, referring to Charlie Hall’s original sign on from nearly 56 years earlier.

Meanwhile, back at the station, we’re manning a phone bank to answer questions for people who are having problems receiving our signal.  One of the most common problems, according to LIVE 5 WCSC Engineer Lowell Knouff, is easily remedied most of the time:  “The first thing I would recommend, if you’re not getting Channel 5 well, is to rescan.”

Your digital converter box or digital television set should have a menu selection for scanning channels.  (Check your owner’s manual for details.)  Rescan and it should find our signal.  You should do this over the course of the day and evening as other local stations shut down their old signal, too: that way, you’ll no longer have your television stop on previously-active analog signals that aren’t there anymore.

If rescanning doesn’t help, Knouff says you may need to adjust your antenna.

“Put it on a station [you’re receiving well] and move the antenna around until you have the peak signal that you can get,” Knouff says.

Once you have the peak signal, rescan again.  This will hopefully help your tuner lock in a good signal.

DTV_Converter_Box_1If you’re receiving us through an antenna and converter box, you need to make sure you have a VHF/UHF antenna: LIVE 5 WCSC’s signal, which has been in the VHF band since we signed on in 1953, is now in the UHF band.  In fact, the only Lowcountry station that will be in the VHF band following today’s switch will be the ETV station.  If you’re only receiving that station, that’s a sign that your antenna isn’t able to receive UHF stations.

If you’re still having trouble, LIVE 5 WCSC’s phone bank may be able to offer other suggestions for your situation.  Call us at 402-5566 and we’ll try to walk you through diagnosing the problem.

The Big Switch: Tomorrow!

Tomorrow morning is when LIVE 5 WCSC ushers in a new era in television:  all-digital broadcasting.

OLD-CAMERAIt reminds us of other times when we’ve made historic changes to the way we get our signal to our viewers.  Back in the 1960s, the big change was a switch from black and white to color.  In the 1980s, it was the switch to a taller tower, reaching more viewers than ever before.  And just last September, LIVE 5 WCSC became the first Lowcountry station to broadcast local news in high definition.

And tomorrow, the change comes bright and early and live on the air at 6:00am, when we flip the switch to shut down our analog transmitter system. Live 5 News’ Bill Burr and Chief Meteorologist Bill Walsh will broadcast live from our transmitter site in Awendaw in the morning, and you’ll see the moment the switch gets flipped.

BIGSWITCH_LOGOAnd what we hope happens at that very moment is…absolutely nothing.

If all goes well, and if you’re prepared for The Big Switch to digital television, that’s exactly what will happen:  you shouldn’t notice any difference at all.

But new research from Nielsen, the company that takes ratings on your favorite shows, indicates that nationwide, 2.8 Million homes are still not ready for the Big Switch.  That’s why we’ll have members of the LIVE 5 WCSC on standby, answering phones just in case you lose our signal and aren’t sure why.  In fact, today, members of our staff are going through special training to be sure we’re all able to answer your DTV questions should problems appear.

So be sure to join us tomorrow morning at 6:00am during LIVE 5 NEWS and watch history happen.

The Big Switch: In 2 Days

There are two questions we’ve been asked a good bit lately when it comes to the Big Switch to digital television:

The first is, “Why do you keep talking about it?  Don’t you think everyone already knows about it?”

BIGSWITCH_LOGOThe answer is simple:  as much as we’d like to think that everyone does know, we know for a fact, based on research, that there are still millions of homes in the U.S.  which aren’t ready for the end of analog broadcasts, even though stations like LIVE 5 WCSC have been educating viewers about the switch for more than a full year.  We want to make sure that everyone is fully aware of what is changing, so that’s why we talk about it. 

The second question we’ve been getting lately is whether it’s too late to order those digital converter box coupons.

The answer here isn’t quite so simple.  DTV_Converter_CouponYou may still apply for a $40 converter box coupon through July 31st, but there are two catches:  the first is that at this point, you won’t receive your coupon before the switch, so if you have no cable or satellite service and your television isn’t equipped with a digital tuner, you may be without TV reception until you get the converter box.

And we certainly don’t want that!

The other catch is that the coupons will only be issued while supplies last.  So if the coupons run out, the July 31st deadline will no longer apply.

If you haven’t ordered your coupon and you’d still like to, call the Coupon Hotline at 1-888-DTV-2009.

We hope you’re ready for the Big Switch and that you’ll enjoy the new era of all-digital broadcasting!

The Big Switch: In 3 Days!

Television is making The Big Switch to digital in just three days.  Are you ready for the transition?

Live 5 WCSC will shut down its analog transmitter at 6:00am this Friday, June 12th.  When the old system is shut down, older television sets will no longer be able to receive our station’s signal unless they are connected to cable or satellite service or are connected to a digital converter box.

DTV_Converter_Box_1It’s not too late to get questions answered, and one local Best Buy store is offering free walk-in assistance: visit the Best Buy store at 1987 Sam Rittenberg Blvd for free assistance now through Wednesday, June 10, 2009. Experts will be on hand from Noon until 8pm to demonstrate converter box installations, help viewers request converter box coupons and answer general questions about the digital TV transition.