How Come I Get Fewer Channels With My Converter Box?

Lincoln Spector
PC World
Tuesday, February 10, 2009; 12:19 AM

Mike Farrell used to get 11 analog stations. Now, with a converter box, he only gets three. I try to explain this unfortunate situation.

And no, I don't know if this is the Mike Farrell from the old TV show, MASH.

Regular readers may think I'm writing too much about the digital TV conversion lately. But after my first post on the topic, readers deluged me with additional questions, and I felt I should answer some of them publicly.

And speaking of that first post, when I said "you'll now get more stations" with digital, I failed to take into account the issue of reception. With analog, if conditions aren't right for you to get good recention from a particular station, you get not-so-good reception. But digital is an all-or-nothing affair. There's no such thing as lousy reception with digital broadcasting, but there is such a thing as no reception. If an analog station came in weak, you probably won't get its digital twin, at all.

There's not much you can do about this. A new antenna might help. Although your old antenna is capable of picking up a digital signal, modern ones are usually better at it.

Also, make sure your antenna is sending both UHF and VHF signals to the converter box. Older antennas may have separate connectors for each. You may need an adapter to attach them both to your box. But you don't need to send both from the converter to your TV.

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I altered this tip a few hours after posting it, correcting a misspelling.

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