Last analog TV stations in the US going away?

edited April 2021 in Hardware
I recently saw that some low-power analog television stations in the United States are shutting down on July 13, 2021. [1]

I might try to go up to northern NH and capture some footage with a portable television, but this is a little sad. Canada's last low power analog stations are supposed to shut down by 2022. [2] These use the same NSTC standard as the US stations, so some people in Canada/near the US/Canada border can still receive these stations.


(I put this here because it is the most relevant here, and I wanted more people to see this)


  • That is sad. I've been thinking of trying to set up some type of low-power VHF television transmitter in order to transmit TV to old sets around the house. I wonder if any of these companies are going to let go of their old equipment at a good price.
  • Analog television was put to death completely here in the UK ten years ago. I fondly remember a portable TV I used to have where I remember watching some stuff on it and days later saw the glorious white noise when I turned it on again.

    I'm surprised it's still going on in North America... I wonder why?
  • edited April 2021
    Canada has many full-power analog TV stations. The documents I saw from the CRTC did not indicate an explicit shutoff date for those.

    The stations that are still analog have likely been unprofitable since the early 90s recession, and are probably better off shutting down than upgrading to ATSC. A couple have managed to switch over in the past couple of years, but even major markets have a very poor quality of local programming. Weather updates mention storms that have moved away hours ago, and most ads seem to be from governmental organizations nowadays, or from other divisions of the companies that own them. Consequently, the news is rarely critical of government, and the stations are being propped up by telecom customers.
  • With a good quality modulator, very small amplifier and low gain antenna you can broadcast within the house.
    I do not recommend though as you may broadcast over anything that took up those frequencies. But if you want help, feel free to ask. (don't hold me responsible for any legal issues)

    In terms of the obsolete equipment, in most cases the amplifiers and frequency mixers(devices that bring up the frequency) will still be kept. It will just be the analog modulators that will be obsolete.
    I actually do have equipment to broadcast digital and analog. Even obsolete equipment still goes pricey.

    Bear in mind digital and analog broadcasting are two different beasts. And it's not just because one is digital and one is analog.
  • @Bry89 Most of the low-power stations in the US just didn't switch to digital (for mostly money reasons), and just kept going. Many are just repeaters, so you usually see the same stuff (not much) as regular OTA television.

    I don't know too much about Canadian television (despite me living in NH, a border state), so I would just guess it is largely the same, but they have taken longer to transition.
  • Thing is, once a DTV converter is installed, the typical OTA user won't see usually any analog stations any more. Typically one would have to disconnect the DTV box and directly attach the antenna, or have some kind of switchbox.

    Took a look and I don't see any analog stations around here any more, except some faint audio on channel 6 (which can be picked up by most FM radios). I do recall that after the switchover there was some home shopping type channel broadcasting analog for a while.
  • By the time the analog to digital switchover came around, I wasn't really watching TV anymore. At least, not over the air TV. After the switch over, I did check out the new sub channels and it was kind of neat, but soon I realized it was all the same stuff. So even though you had more channels, you just had more channels of exactly the same content.

    The only thing I miss about analog was that if you got a weak signal (depending on how weak) you could still watch the show. It would suck, but you could still do it. But with digital, all you'd get is a pixelated mess where maybe you could catch a word or two of dialog. And instead of getting a slightly fuzzy picture, it would just cut out entirely.

    But having a nice clear HD picture when you did get the signal was awesome. Unfortunately, though, OTA is just really useless. There's nothing good on most of the time and even if there is, you have to sit through seemingly endless commercials to watch it... Plus sticking with a broadcast schedule so you have to watch the show you want to watch at the time its on... those days sucked, I'll take streaming any day.

    It really wouldn't surprise me if OTA went away entirely within my lifetime. Cause it's either that, or it needs to update with the times. I've heard ATSC may wind up supporting on-demand content, which would be interesting... but it might be too late. I guess we'll just have to see what happens.
  • edited April 2021
    ...sticking with a broadcast schedule so you have to watch the show you want to watch at the time its on... those days sucked, I'll take streaming any day.

    They actually make HD tuners now, that you can connect a USB flash drive or HDD to and record shows. Thankfully the show I kept up with most (Jeopardy) was available OTA, so I just recorded it and watched it when I had time. I could even take the USB stick out and watch it in VLC media player if I wanted.

    The picture quality I've seen with ATSC has been much better than even Verizon FiOS.
  • Yes, I have one. I also have an HD homerun connected to my plex server which can do DVR as well.
  • ATSC is in very poor shape in Canada. There are almost no subchannels, and many stations that are on full-power licences are broadcasting as low-power stations that can't be received easily even 10 km away from the transmitting antenna, because they are owned by cable companies.

    No one will invest in ATSC 3.0 here, I'm sure. And I do believe that all of the de facto low power stations have never been in the black, even after nearly 25 years on the air.
  • I will say, it's a bit of a different field in the satellite FTV channel realm.
    You can find some decent channels since a lot of times they piggyback on unused bandwidth the "big guys" have.

    Sadly, the equipment is a bit cost-prohibitive.
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