FAQ's For KFVS12 Viewers - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff


FAQ's For KFVS12 Viewers

KFVS12 conversion from analog to digital
Specific Information for KFVS12 over-the-air viewers

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the real reason for replacing our traditional analog signal with the new digital signal?
Like most things, the real reason is money.  In this case it's not money for broadcasters, it's money for the government. This switch is part of the Federal Deficit Reduction Act of 2005. The intent was to create additional over-the-air spectrum they could auction off to raise money that would reduce the federal deficit.  They also intended to donate an additional amount of spectrum to emergency first responders.  There are benefits to the switch including clearer TV images and sound, and the potential for more local channels.

Why is it called "The Big Switch?"
This is a marketing term intended to focus attention on TV stations' switch from analog signals to digital signals now scheduled to occur on June 12th, 2009.  Actually, nearly all local stations are already transmitting both signals, so the only things "switching" on that date are that we're switching off our analog signal, and we're switching our digital signal from UHF channel 57 to VHF channel 12 (more about that in questions below).  The term "Big Switch" could lead viewers to think that we're switching from analog to digital on that date but that is not the case.  Since we're already transmitting a digital signal, we'll just be digital-only on a different frequency after that date.

After months of promoting February 17th as the date to shut down analog signals, why did it change to June 12th?
That's a great question. For more than 18 months local stations have had to adhere to the government's educational requirements of on-air announcements, on-screen graphics, and on-line countdowns.  With less than two weeks to the deadline, congress voted to change the date.  Now, June 12th is the last day that local full-power stations can broadcast their analog signals.  Late last year the government's converter box discount coupon program ran out of the money originally budgeted.  Instead of distributing more coupons, consumers were put on a waiting list.  As previously distributed coupons expired, they were recycled and sent to new applicants.  This caused come consumers to become confused and congress got concerned.  In addition, some reports indicated that a significant number of households would not be ready for the switch by February 17th and would lose their TV signals.  After much debate, congress and the Obama Administration decided to delay the switch deadline to June 12th.

Why are some stations are turning off their analog signals on February 17th anyway?
Some stations sent requests to the FCC to allow them to turn off analog signals on the original February 17th date.  Many of those requests were denied but some were allowed.  It is not totally clear what criteria the FCC used to make its decisions.  They were likely based on the reported "readiness" of a particular television market, along with the negative effect to that market's analog viewers if they could no longer receive that station's analog signal.

Was KFVS12 in favor of the delay to June 12th?
No, KFVS12 management wanted to turn off our analog signal on February 17th as planned for several reasons:

  • After months of promotion, we thought it would cause additional confusion to have to re-educate viewers about a new date.
  • Our situation is different than most stations in that we have to change our digital frequency from UHF channel 57 to VHF channel 12 at the time when we shut down our analog signal. Most stations' digital signals will remain on their current UHF assignment even after they turn off their analog signals. Our digital signal way up on UHF 57 has been difficult to receive for some viewers because many antennas aren't designed to receive upper band UHF signals. In addition, UHF signals like channel 57 are typically less robust and require more power than VHF signals like channel 12. For those reasons we thought it was in the best interest of our viewers if we could get our digital signal on channel 12 as soon as possible.  Now, that can't happen until we turn off the analog channel 12 signal after June 12th.
  • Finally, it takes double the utility expense to run digital and analog transmitters at the same time.  In addition, we'll have to purchase expensive analog tubes to keep that transmitter going for only a few more months.

Did KFVS12 request permission from the FCC to allow an analog shut down on the original February 17th date?
No. Reluctantly, after conferring with other local news stations, we decided to wait until June 12th in order to give "unready" households additional time to obtain converter box discount coupons and make additional arrangements to be ready for the analog shut down. 

Is this change equivalent to the switch from black and white to color back in the 60's?
Not at all.  The change from black and white to color was driven gracefully by free market conditions. In other words, once we established, tested, and perfected color technology, viewer and sponsor demands dictated how the change occurred. As viewers became interested in color programming, sponsors naturally followed suit.  As they put their money toward color programming, the networks began to produce and air more shows in color. As more viewers, sponsors, and networks became interested, more TV manufacturers began to produce more color TV's.  While all of this happened, viewers' older black and white TV's continued to work.

In contrast, the switch from analog to digital has NOT been driven by free market conditions.  This change has been driven by the government to ultimately reduce the federal deficit and to provide additional over-the-air spectrum for emergency first responders.  As a result, many of the technological issues of digital transmission are still unresolved.  These issues include perfecting the set-top digital-to-analog converters and the quality and features of new digital and high definition TV's.  In addition, broadcasters still do not know many of the characteristics of digital transmissions including how far the signals will travel compared to similar analog signals, how atmospheric conditions and surrounding terrain will affect digital transmissions, and the optimum type of antenna needed to receive the signals.

And a final major difference is that, unlike black and white TV's, analog TV's will NOT work with digital signals without the additional cost of a set-top converter box, cable, or satellite service.

If KFVS12 is transmitting analog and digital signals until June 12th, 2009, are they both on the same channel?
No.  Since we can't transmit two separate signals on the same frequency, all the local stations have been assigned higher UHF channels to transmit their digital signals.  The KFVS12 digital signal has been assigned to UHF channel 57. Some stations will continue to broadcast their digital signals on the new UHF channels after June 12th, 2009.  Others, like KFVS12, will flash cut back to their original channels on that date.  The KFVS12 digital signal will transmit on VHF channel 12 after June 12th 2009.

What does that mean if I want to start receiving the KFVS12 digital signal over the air now?
Unfortunately, having our digital signal way up on UHF channel 57, even temporarily, has caused us problems.  UHF signals are typically less robust than VHF, meaning they require more power to reach the same distance, and are more sensitive to atmospheric conditions and terrain obstacles.  Our situation is even more problematic because channel 57 is so high up on the UHF band that those issues are more pronounced. So, depending on your elevation and surrounding terrain, to receive our digital signal today, you'll need an antenna capable of picking up UHF channel 57, pointed at our transmitter located 8.5 miles north of Cape Girardeau near Oriole, Missouri.  Once we shut down our analog transmitter in February, we'll cut our digital signal back to VHF channel 12 which is the frequency we have always used; a stronger, more robust frequency.  In order to keep from having to purchase a different antenna when that happens, we recommend you contact a local antenna installer to purchase a good quality multi-directional VHF/UHFcombo antenna capable of receiving all of the local stations now and after the switch date in June. 

Why doesn't my TV indicate that I'm watching channel 57 when I tune in the KFVS12 digital signal?
Even though your TV or converter box indicates that you're watching channel 12.1, it is actually receiving it (temporarily) on channel 57.  We encode data into the signal that tells your receiver to display it as 12.1

Will my existing traditional antenna work to receive the new digital signals?
As long as your antenna is in good condition at the appropriate height and orientation, and capable of receiving upper level UHF channels, it should receive the digital signals.  Remember, after June 12th you'll need to make sure that your antenna can receive VHF signals because our digital signal will move to VHF channel 12. That said, we've learned that newly designed digital/HD antennas may have features that make them better for digital reception.  The digital transmission technology is so new that we're still learning about some of the characteristics.  There is a link at the Big Switch section of our web site with more information about the type of antenna you may need.

I've used my antenna to receive KFVS12 for years so why can't I receive your new digital signal?
If your existing antenna is VHF-only, you won't be able to receive our digital signal that is temporarily assigned to UHF channel 57.  After June 12th, 2009, we'll switch our digital signal back to our traditional VHF channel 12.  Some viewers may choose to continue watching our analog signal on channel 12 as they always have until June 12th. Here is a link to a web site sponsored by the National Association of Broadcasters with more information about the antenna you may need.

Why can I get all of the other local stations' over the air digital signals but not KFVS12?
To receive KFVS12's digital signal over the air right now, you'll need an appropriate size antenna at the correct height capable of receiving UHF channel 57.  It must be pointed at or near the direction of our transmitter tower located 8.5 miles North of Cape Girardeau (GPS Coordinate: 37° 25' 46" N, 89° 30' 14" W)After June 12th the antenna will need to be capable of receiving VHF channel 12.  It is important to remember that, once our digital signal goes back to channel 12, it will be a more robust signal less affected by atmospheric conditions and surrounding terrain. If you intend to continue watching KFVS12 on an analog TV set, there is no reason that you have to start receiving our digital signal right now. We'll continue to transmit our traditional analog signal as we always have until June 12th when we'll move our digital signal to that frequency.

If I'm currently receiving your digital signal over the air, do I need to do anything on June 12th?
Yes.  Since we will be changing our digital signal from UHF channel 57 to VHF channel 12, you'll need to make sure your antenna is capable of receiving VHF signals.  You'll also need to re-set your TV's tuner or your set-top converter box to make sure it finds our new signal.  This may require you to re-scan the channels with your tuner.

What's with the other channels like 12.2, 12.3, etc?
Transmitting a digital signal allows local stations to "multi-cast."  That means we can transmit multiple "sub" channels.  Currently, channel 12.1 is our main KFVS12 digital signal.  12.2 is actually a digital signal of our sister station WQWQ, the local CW Network affiliate. We use that signal to distribute WQWQ to area cable systems.  12.3 is our 24-hour StormTeam Weather Channel.

Is "digital" the same thing as "high-definition?"
No.  All high definition programming must be digital, but not all digital programming is high definition.  On the broadcast networks, most of their "scripted" comedies and dramas are available in high definition.  Many of their reality and news programs are still being produced in standard definition format.  High definition is recognized by its noticeably sharper picture.  It will also fill the entire screen on a 16x9 aspect TV without the need to stretch or manipulate the image.

What are my options if I don't want to buy a new digital TV?
If you watch KFVS12 through an antenna on an analog TV, you'll be able to receive us until June 12th, 2009.  On that date we have to turn off our analog transmitter and broadcast only a digital signal.  If you don't do anything, your TV will no longer receive any of the local stations after that date.  All new TV's are required to have a digital tuner so buying a new set is definitely an option, but if you don't want to do that, sometime between now and June 12th, you'll need to:

  • Purchase and install a set-top converter box (there's a government supplied coupon for discounts on converter boxes, see next questions below)
  • Purchase TV service from a cable or satellite provider (both are required to convert digital signals to analog that your TV will display.  You should check with your provider to make sure they intend to do this)

What are converter boxes?
Converter boxes are basically digital receivers that convert the digital signals to analog signals so your older TV set will continue to work after June 12th.  Some converter boxes will convert digital signals as well as pass through the analog signals.  This could be important if you plan to put your converter box into service before June 12th.  The reason is that even though you've been receiving KFVS12 through the air, your current antenna may not be appropriate to receive our new digital signal currently transmitting on UHF channel 57. If this is your situation, a "pass through" converter box should allow you to continue to receive our analog signal on VHF channel 12.  Remember, on June 12th we plan to move our digital signal from UHF 57 to VHF 12 where we have always been. Another option would be to purchase your converter box, test it to make sure it operates, and then wait to install it until June 12th.

Where can I get a converter box?
Converter boxes are currently available at many electronics retailers throughout the area.  A current list is available at the "Big Switch" section of the KFVS12.com web site.  Remember, we recommend converter boxes that convert digital signals and pass through analog signals as well (see question above).  Check with your electronics retailer to make sure you purchase the correct converter box for this purpose.

What about those discount coupons for the converter boxes?
The government is offering $40 discount coupons for the purchase of qualifying converter boxes.  While supplies last, each household can apply for up to two coupons that must be used within 90 days of receipt.  Each coupon can be used toward the purchase of one box.  Coupons may not be combined and may not be used for TV's or any other component except for qualifying converter boxes.  You'll find a link to apply for the coupons at the Big Switch section of KFVS12.com, or call 1-888-388-2009 to apply over the telephone.

What is the "cliff effect?"
With traditional analog signals, the farther away from the transmitter you get, the weaker the signal will appear. If you go far enough the signal will get noisy or snowy, but may still remain watchable as the signal degrades.  By contrast, digital signals adhere to the "cliff effect."  Basically this means that you either receive the signal perfectly, or not at all.  If the signal is strong enough for your receiver to process, it should look good.  If it is not, you will see nothing.  With digital signals, there is no in-between.

When will KFVS12 switch Heartland News to high definition?
That's a great question and the answer is that we don't know.  The capital expense to convert all of our electronic news gathering equipment from standard to high definition will be significant.  We have already spent major capital to purchase a new digital transmitter and antenna.  We also have had to retrofit our transmitter tower to accommodate two antennas at the same time.  This doesn't include the additional utility expense of operating both our traditional analog transmitter and our new digital transmitter simultaneously.  To present Heartland News in high definition will require major modifications to our Master Control equipment, along with additional studio and field equipment.  Long term plans do include converting our local news to high definition but no specific date has been determined.

If I purchase a new digital TV, what should I do with my old one that will no longer work?
There is a concern about the impact of dumping so many TV's due to the switch to digital. Some of the concern is that the lead and mercury could contaminate the surrounding area.  Some manufacturers are beginning to reclaim their old TV's when you purchase a new one.  Also, some communities have local electronic recycling facilities that will safely dispose of old TV's.

Where can I get more information?
There are lots of useful links and information throughout the Big Switch section of our web site.  If you need additional information a brand new phone number has been created by the FCC:

1-888-CALL FCC

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