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What are the most common reception problems?

The three most common reception problems are: -

1. Ghosting
2. Snowy pictures
3. Picture patterning
I can't get a good reception. What could be the problem?

Poor TV reception no matter how hard you try?

There are a number of factors that effect your reception. In simple terms they are: -

1. Distance and “line of sight” from main transmitting towers.

The quality of reception received is directly related to the physical distance between your location and the transmission towers of your local TV station. Good reception should be expected up to say 50km (??) from your nearest transmission tower, though this is not the sole criteria.

Also important is whether there is a relatively clear line of sight (i.e. no major physical obstacles such as mountains or tall buildings) between your location and the transmission towers.
Generally speaking, the closer you are to a transmission tower and the clearer your “line of sight”, the better your chances in receiving good TV reception.

2. Physical environment

Should your line of sight be impeded by physical obstructions, then this may effect the quality of TV reception you receive.
Do you live in a valley surrounded by high mountain ranges? Are you surrounded by a number of tall buildings? Tall Trees? You could be living in what is known as a reception “black spot”. Indeed, any number of factors could be preventing you from receiving the best possible TV reception.

If you are experiencing reception problems we suggest a site inspection and antenna system check from a trained technician. They are best equipped to advise what problems you may be having – and how to fix them!

3. Condition, Age or Type of existing antenna.

There are approximately 7 million households in Australia, yet only 600,000 antennas are estimated to be sold in Australia every year. Looked at another way, a householder may only ever consider servicing or upgrading their antenna system once every 10 to 12 years, with the average age of antennas probably somewhere around 5 years.

A lot can happen in that time, from a gradual deterioration of the antenna and cabling itself, changes to the local environment, or even changes in network transmissions (such as the migration to Digital Television from 2010).

4. Changes to your TV /Home entertainment set up.

Changes to your TV /Home entertainment set up.

This is quite common (especially if there is a DIY/Handyman in the house!). Not many people realise that this has a direct effect on the quality of TV reception they receive.

Consider this. Have you recently;

 • Added additional TV points (and even more Televisions off the single antenna!),
• Extended the distance between your TV reception point(s) and your antenna
• Changed the physical location of your external TV antenna
• Manually (or inadvertently) adjusted the direction of your external antenna
• Upgraded your Home Entertainment System (particularly to Digital TV!) All of these factors may have a bearing on the quality of reception received.
• Condition of your TV!
This sounds obvious, but often isn’t. Despite advances in television manufacturing technology, the age of your television may be a contributing factor to TV quality.
• Network transmissions (esp. Digital)
Generally speaking the transmission quality from the major networks is unquestioned.
Much has been written recently regarding the increase in general interference (in certain areas) to existing TV reception caused by test Digital transmissions by the major networks. Much of this testing has now been completed. The Federation of Commercial Television Stations (FACTS) is able to update customers on the current status of such transmissions. Their contact details are , Mail: 44 Avenue Road Mosman NSW 2088, Telephone: 02 9960 2622 or Facsimile: 02 9969 3520.
• Local interference
Finally, poor TV reception could also be caused by local (and sporadic) interference such as the usage of electric devices, machinery and so on.

What about Digital?

Digital television is a replacement technology for existing free-to-air (FTA) analogue services. It will provide better picture quality and reception, plus a variety of new features that will greatly enhance the viewing experience.

Australia has chosen the European DVB standard as the Digital Terrestrial TV or DTTV standard. DVB is proving to be a very high quality system and is being used in many countries around the world. In Australia it will replace the analogue PAL system.
Digital television commenced on 1 January 2001 and most Australians will be migrated to digital by 2010. All the major Australian networks are transmitting in Digital.

Getting “Digital” is as easy as having a technician supply and install a new Digital Set Top Box to your existing television set. 
What is Digital Television?

Digital television is a replacement technology for existing free-to-air (FTA) analogue services. It will provide better picture quality and reception, plus a variety of new features that will greatly enhance the viewing experience. Australia has chosen the European DVB standard as the Digital Terrestrial TV or DTTV standard. DVB is proving to be a very high quality system and is being used in many countries around the world. In Australia it will replace the analogue PAL system.
When did free-to-air digital television commence in Australia?

Digital television commenced on 1 January 2001. All the major Australian networks are transmitting in Digital.
Where is free-to-air digital television available?

Metropolitan areas: Digital transmissions became available in Australia’s five major capital cities ¬ Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth ¬ from Jan 1, 2001 (and from main transmitters only). Non-Metropolitan/Regional: Outside of the major metropolitan areas, regional broadcasters must begin digital transmissions by no later than 1 January 2004. Digital broadcasting in some regional centres will start in mid-2001, and others later. A timetable for the commencement of digital broadcasting in remote parts of Australia has not yet been settled. Most Australians will be migrated to Digital by 2010.
What’s so special about Digital?

Digital television is a far more efficient and flexible transmission system than the current analogue system. It allows broadcasters to offer viewers a range of new and different services. Australian digital television features will include:

1.  ‘Ghost free’ reception 
2.  Widescreen 16 x 9 pictures where programming is available
3.  Standard definition pictures (SD) & High definition pictures (HD) 
4.  High quality audio and surround sound (CD quality) supporting Prologic and AC3 formats.
5.  Multi-channel programming on ABC and SBS
6.  Closed Captioning of programs for the hearing impaired. 
7.  Electronic Program Guides (EPGs) with ‘now & next’ program information. 
8.  Multi-camera views and enhancements of the same broadcast event during selected   programs. Over time, interactive television services including selected Internet services, home shopping, computer games and more will be provided by broadcasters.
No Ghosting? It sounds like I’ll get perfect pictures!

With digital, it is very precise ¬ either you receive the DTTV transmission or you do not. Much like today’s digital mobile phones, you get excellent reception or not at all. With Digital, there is "no noise” (the white static that appears on your screen when the signal is low) and no multi-path (the irritating “ghost” images or echoes from TV signals reflected off nearby buildings).

Just having a “clean” picture represents a huge leap forward in terms of clarity and resolution contributing to a very sharp image
What is a “Digital Ready” antenna system?

To receive crisp, clear digital reception. the viewer’s reception
equipment and antenna and supporting antenna system should be in reasonable condition, preferably “Digital Ready”.

A Digital Ready antenna system is :-

1. Where the antenna is designed to receive VHF Ch 2 to 12 & UHF 28-48;
2. Is supported by a cable system with high immunity to electrical interference i.e. Tri or Quad shield RG6 cabling, and has F-Type connector interface from the antenna throughout the system to the wall plate
What about audio quality?

Audio (as well as video signals in DTTV are digital and thus can be used to attain the same quality as that of CD's and is clearly superior to analogue.
Is audio better on digital television than analogue?

Yes. Australian television has traditionally been broadcast with FM stereo sound. Digital television will be transmitted with MPEG digital stereo sound and/or Dolby™ Digital Sound (6 channels), thereby providing markedly superior audio services. 
What is wide-screen?

Many digital television programs will be broadcast in wide-screen mode. Widescreen television has a different TV Screen aspect ratio (ratio of width to height) than traditional analogue. Widescreen’s aspect ratio is 16:9, while Australian viewers have been accustomed to viewing a 4:3 aspect ratio since television began in this country.

Over time the widescreen format will replace the current 4:3 format. This can be evidenced from the use of widescreen format on DVD movies as well as newer TV programs especially  movies and sports. An increasing amount of DTTV content is being transmitted in 16:9 and news and current affairs programs like “10 News”, “7 News” and “Nine News” are already using this format. Wide-screen will in many cases literally mean you see more of the picture.

Most movies are currently made in 16:9 and are converted to 4:3 to allow us to watch them on television or video, so there is a lot of information that you don’t see on your television that you would see in the cinema version of the film.
Live sporting events will benefit in particular from the extra detail and wider frame.

For some time now television production has been converting to widescreen, both locally and overseas. Widescreen programming is becoming widespread and will eventually become the global standard.

Standard Definition (SD) vs High Definition (HD) pictures?

The definition (detail and quality) of pictures received by your TV is directly related to the type of TV being viewed, and the quality of the TV antenna and cabling system that is connected to it. Most existing television equipment (including common analogue TV sets) already receive what is known as Standard Definition pictures i.e. 525 lines of picture resolution over your (near square) 4:3 ratio TV screen. SD Digital transmissions (which are now being broadcast in all areas transmitting in digital) help overcome most traditional reception problems (such as ghosting) when decoded to your TV via the Digital Set Top Box.

The other key benefits of SD Digital (such as DVD/Cinema quality pictures & CD sound) are now a reality for the most basic of TV hardware set ups, together with widescreen viewing on television sets with a 16:9 TV screen format (i.e. Widescreen TVs).
Compared to Standard Definition Television, a HD TV image (a feature only available via a significantly more expensive HD Television receiver) has twice the luminance definition - vertically and horizontally. HD pictures are composed of between 1080 to 1125 lines of resolution whereas standard television pictures are only 525 lines as noted above i.e. even more detail and clarity - but at a price!

Within two years of the commencement of digital broadcasting in an area, and in addition to their analogue and Standard Definition transmissions, commercial television broadcasters and the ABC and SBS will be required to provide at least 20 hours per week of programs shot in HD.
Other than for real home entertainment buffs however, there is no real need to wait for HDTV, with the Federal Government requiring broadcasters to provide a digital SD signal at all times, even when HD (High Definition) programs are being broadcast. This is to ensure that viewers will always be able to receive a digital transmission whether on a SDTV or HDTV TV receiver.

Again, the HD integrated television receiver (HDTV) or the HD set top box (HD-STB) is expected to cost significantly more than SD integrated television receivers (SDTV) or the SD set top box (SD-STB).
In effect, the Government is setting a very high performance benchmark for the TV broadcasters via their HDTV transmission guidelines. It's the best of both worlds. Those with more expensive tastes (and deeper pockets) will be able to enjoy full home entertainment viewing, whilst the average TV viewer will also enjoy the best that Digital TV has to offer on their existing TV systems.

What is multi-view?

Not too long ago, viewers watching sports were at the mercy of the director and cameramen. The extra bandwidth or space in each TV channel created by DTTV has meant that directors can now fix camera angles and invite the viewer to choose the particular preferred angle. This is, of course is dependent on the TV station. Programs like these have been telecast by the commercial networks. ABC and SBS, on the other hand, have utilised the extra bandwidth to telecast additional programs simultaneously (i.e. multi-channelling).

Multi-view lets you take the director’s chair and select from a variety of camera angles. Multi-view is particularly suited to sporting events like cricket, tennis and motor racing. On channels adjacent to the main program the viewer can select, via remote control, several different full screen views of the same event or related information.
What is Multi-channelling?

Multi-channeling is where more than one television program can be broadcast in SDTV at the same time. This is because a digital signal can carry much more data than an analogue signal. The Federal Government has decided that commercial broadcasters will not be allowed to multi-channel (at least until 2008), but that the ABC and SBS may do so now
What multichannel services are the ABC and SBS offering?

The ABC is proposing to offer digital audiences a number of new television channels during the next few years. The channels will offer audiences specialist programs that are not well catered for in the existing television schedules. The first of the new services will be for children and young Australians.
What radio services are the ABC and SBS offering?

The ABC is keen to use digital spectrum to transmit national radio services more widely throughout Australia. Parliamentary News Network and Triple J, for example, cannot be received by many people in regional Australia and could be transmitted via digital television when it is rolled out to regional Australia from 2004. The ABC will assess the demand for radio services via digital television and the competing priorities for spectrum to determine whether this is a cost-effective use of resources.
SBS is broadcasting two of its multilingual radio programs across Australia on all its digital television services.

What are program enhancements?

Viewers of digital television will have a wide choice of ‘enhancements’ to regular programming. Enhancements are separate channels of video, data or audio, which are related to the program on the primary channel.

Sporting events will offer the choice of different camera angles, action replays, player profiles or other information. Across a range of programming, digital viewers will have a choice to select more information related to the regular program – product information, recipes, news background and much more.

In addition, if a sports event overlaps with the news, digital viewers may be offered the opportunity to watch the regularly scheduled news bulletin or the completion of the event on a separate channel.
What is Closed Captioning?

Closed captioning provides deaf and hearing-impaired viewers with the text of what is being spoken on television. The text is usually shown in a black box at the bottom of the picture.

Hearing-impaired viewers will be familiar with current analogue captioning which can be received on analogue receivers with teletext capability. Captioning is normally ‘closed’ to viewers but can be accessed by those who need it.

Closed captioning of programming for hearing impaired viewers will be done for all English language news and current affairs programs as well as for all prime time programs (6.00pm to 10.30pm).

What is an EPG (Electronic Program Guide)?

An EPG is the electronic version of a printed program guide. Using your remote control you will be able to see on-screen “what’s on now” and “what’s on next” for all free-to-air services. Some networks are also working towards Extended EPG that would allow program searches 7 days in advance, or more. The quality and accuracy of EPG is driven directly by the individual networks.

You can also search for a particular program by theme or category, eg sporting programs, movies etc. Extra text and picture information (eg story line, episode description etc) can be called up as well.
The EPG is updated directly by the networks and available at the click of a remote control button. EPG services are being implemented across all free-to-air television channels.

What is interactive television (iTV)?

iTV allows the viewer to receive more information from a television broadcast than analogue can provide. iTV can be one-way or two-way.

One-way iTV delivers information to your receiver that is additional to the main program and allows you the option to view it or not. The viewer is able to view travel deals, concert dates etc. Full, two-way iTV enables the viewer to send information back to the broadcaster via a back-channel. The viewer will be able to vote in a poll, reserve concert tickets, etc. Both one-way and two way iTV can be added to television commercials as well as programs. A special icon will appear on the screen to notify the viewer iTV is available.

When will interactive television be available?

One-way iTV is immediately available. Two-way iTV requires the use of special software in your receiver. Receivers with this level of capability are expected to be on the market during the first half of 2002.
Also required will be a modem back channel to allow for full two way interactivity.

Does it cost anything to receive Digital Television?

No, other than the purchase and installation of either a Digital STB or Digital television.

OK. What equipment do I need to receive Digital Television?

Firstly you should have a Digital Ready antenna system. You can receive Digital TV through your existing analogue TV/Video with the supply and installation of a Digital STB.

The more expensive option would be the purchase of an integrated Digital Television Receiver (i.e. a television set that contains all the components necessary to receive and display digital transmissions.) Integrated digital television receivers will generally be distinguished by wide screens, high level audio capability and high resolution displays.

The general consensus however (and supported by major industry players such as Bang & Olufsen) is that the technology behind Set Top Boxes will develop at a far greater rate than the Digital televisions themselves. Those wishing to keep up to date with the latest STB advancements may therefore prefer to opt for a good quality widescreen analogue television and simply update the STB as new versions come onto the market.

Is digital television likely to cause interference?

No. Digital television is not inherently prone to causing interference. But the planning of channel allocations for digital television has entailed the occupation by digital television broadcasts of some channels formerly used for other purposes, eg, as output channels for VCRs.

I’ve heard that not everyone can receive (get) Digital?

Where broadcast, it is believed up to 95% of people should be able to receive Digital. In extreme problem reception areas satellite reception of Free To Air transmissions via what is know as “Remote Area Broadcasting” may take this percentage even higher. There are potentially some reception “black-spots” in each market, and we can advise if your location is effected.
What is a digital television set-top box?

A set-top box for digital television receives and decodes digital transmissions into a form suitable for display on analogue television sets or other display devices, e.g. computer monitors or projection screens.

What does a set-top box do?

The capability of a set-top box will depend upon its specifications. A set-top box, when connected to an analogue television set, will usually give viewers an improved signal, SDTV-equivalent picture quality and select on screen enhancements. Set-top boxes can provide a picture output to either analogue or digital screen displays.

Will one STB give me Digital television for all TVs in my house?

No. You will require a second STB for each TV outlet, unless you opt for the installation of a video-playback system, which effectively sends the signal from the STB to all other TV’s connected within the house. The limitation here is that each TV is “locked into” the channel selected on the main STB at any one point in time.

What is involved in an STB installation? How long does it take?

The installation of the STB would take approximately 45 minutes to one hour. It includes a complete antenna systems check (required because the set up and quality of individual TV systems is different), the installation of the STB, a full network scan and TV/Video retune.

What about my existing antenna?

At the time of installation the technician will provide you with a necessary antenna system assessment to verify the integrity of your current antenna, cabling and connections. Unless your antenna system is of a reasonable standard and capable of fully receiving digital signals then you may not be getting the best out of your STB investment. This is why there is a need for an on-site inspection.

Do I need a new antenna to receive Digital Television?

The channels being allocated to digital television in the capital cities are mainly adjacent to existing analogue channels. If your existing antenna is in reasonable condition, is presently providing good all-channel reception, is capable of receiving VHF channels 6 to 12, then it would most likely provide an acceptable signal reception point for the new digital television services in most capital city areas.

Outside capital cities, digital channel allocations are expected to be within the same UHF band, so reception should generally be possible using existing UHF antennas. Viewers in areas of poor analogue reception may need specialist advice about antenna requirements for digital reception in their area.

Having said this however, the average age of antenna systems is estimated at over five years old. It is therefore quite possible that you may need to upgrade. Cabling with poor shielding for example may “pixilate” the Digital picture should there be significant local electrical interference (e.g. power lines, when using electric drill, hairdryers, etc).

I live in a block of flats (or similar). Will the STB work here?

In many cases Yes. And if no additional external cabling or antenna system re-working is required then you will not even require Body Corporate approval.

I live and work in commercial premises. The pictures I get are very poor. Will a STB work for me?

Yes. The opportunity to vastly improve analogue pictures in a commercial environment does not vary significantly from what is experienced in a domestic setting.

What will happen to my existing analogue TV set?

Free-to-air broadcasters will simulcast (i.e., broadcast both analogue and digital signals) for at least eight years, so viewers will continue to be able to use current analogue television sets to receive broadcasts direct until at least the end of 2010. And, beyond the end of simulcasting, the addition of a digital-to-analogue converter in the form of a set-top box will allow viewers to continue indefinitely to display digital transmissions on the screens of their analogue sets.

Can my analogue TV set display a Digital TV picture to its full effect?

Basically yes, although many new TV purchasers are opting to upgrade to a widescreen television to enjoy Digital transmissions to their full effect
Can I still receive analogue TV?


Do I need to purchase a 16:9 (Widescreen) television to enjoy Digital television?

No. Whilst a widescreen television would maximise your Digital television viewing it is not mandatory. You can still view DTTV through a traditional 4:3 analogue television .

Will my Video Cassette Recorder (VCR) still work?

Yes. During and after the simulcast period, you will be able to record the digital channel on view, provided that your set-top box or digital television has an analogue output – and VCRs will also continue to play back pre-recorded tapes. Many will find the picture quality of recorded digital programs is better than that of analogue programs.

However, VCRs will not be able to record a separate digital broadcast from that being viewed, although during the simulcast period they will be able to record any analogue program while a different digital program is being viewed. Current VHS video recorders will still only record and playback VHS-quality pictures. In some cases, the RF channel output to the VCR may be the same as that used by a digital channel in the area, the RF output on your VCR may need adjustment to avoid clashing with the locally broadcast service.

Are any new Digital Set Top Boxes coming out? Should I buy now – or wait?

There is no reason to wait and delay receiving crisp digital television quality. To the best of our knowledge there will be no major changes to the current STB product planned.
How expensive are digital set-top boxes and television sets?

Digital Set Top Box pricing continues to become more affordable. Brand name boxes are now on the market from just $99. However most Standard Definition boxes are selling for between $149 and $249.

Can I receive digital TV on Pay TV?

No. Pay TV subscribers will not be able to receive digital television unless Pay TV service providers fully digitise their delivery systems. You will continue to receive free-to-air channels via cable Pay TV services, but only in analogue form. Free–to-air channels are not provided by satellite Pay TV services.

What if I am subscribing to Pay TV and already have a Set Top Box?

The DTTV STB and the PAY TV STB is not the same thing. Your technician will be able to interconnect your DTTV and Pay STBs when on site.

How big is a Set Top Box?

About the same size as your average VCR or DVD.
Are these STBs upgradeable?

Software – Yes . Firmware – Yes. Interactive – no. Requires a modem and other hardware changes

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