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Setting up a TV antenna not as easy as it once was

POSTED: February 14, 2014 11:57 p.m.

Is it possible to get a television antenna to watch the Olympics?

Yes, but it might take some work.

In 2009, America underwent the “digital television transition,” which required all full-powered television stations in the country to broadcast exclusively in a digital format. This means that antenna-based channels now have better picture and sound quality, but viewers may have to jump through more hoops to watch them than they did with the old analog channels.

According to Federal Communications Commission reception maps, Gainesville receives 13 channels with moderate to strong signal strength. Channel 11-1 is NBC, which airs the Winter Olympics.

However, this reception map is based on an outdoor antenna positioned roughly 30 feet above the ground, and reception can vary tremendously on local terrain. This means that basic antennas will likely not be able to receive the channel needed to watch the games. However, you should always try your existing antenna in several different locations before buying a new one.

Most of the channels available in Gainesville are classified as moderate signal strength, and the FCC recommends people use a high quality indoor antenna or an outdoor antenna for that signal strength. These antennas can cost anywhere from $30 up to several hundred. If you choose to buy an outdoor antenna, it is recommended that you mount it on top of a mast or on the roof of your house.

To receive digital television stations, it is important that your antenna be able to receive both VHF and UHF channels.

In addition, you may need to adjust the direction of your antenna for different channels; if you have an outdoor antenna this can be difficult. An electronic rotator can be purchased separately and will allow you to adjust the direction of your antenna from inside your home.

You can view the available reception in your location by using the FCC’s reception maps on its website at www.fcc.gov/digital-television, which will also tell you what direction you should point your antenna. From Gainesville, the recommended compass direction for NBC is south southwest, or 221 degrees.

If you own an older television, you may have to buy a digital-to-analog converter, but most televisions manufactured in the past five or six years shouldn’t need one.

For more information visit www.fcc.gov/digital-television.

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