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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Some Myths and Misconceptions About Free OTA TV

There is a lot of bad information out there about free OTA TV and pay TV. Some of it is lack of information, some is misinformation. Some of it comes from a basic misunderstanding of free digital TV, and some of it even originates with pay TV providers themselves.


  1. "You can't use an antenna anymore since they went digital"
    So very wrong, and this is one that the Pay TV industry helped to propagate. When the digital conversion happened, TV providers were required to inform people of the transition. But they instead used it as a marketing opportunity, to mislead people into thinking that free OTA TV was going away, or that it was too complicated to get free TV. "After the digital switch, this is what you will see..." accompanied by a graphic of a TV with a static filled screen. Or, an overly complex description of the "painful" process of adding a converter box.
  2. "My Grandfather had an antenna. He got 3 channels."
    This is not your Grandfather's free antenna TV. In most areas, there are many broadcasters. And each one is capable of broadcasting more than one program. Multicasting allows for a single station, say channel 10, to broadcast "PBS" on 10.1, "MHZ Worldview" on 10.2, "PBS Create" on 10.3, and "PBS Kids" on 10.4. Many antenna users, in fact, can get more free channels than a basic cable package.
  3. "Cable has a better picture than you can get with an antenna"
    FALSE. Sure, back in the days of analog TV, a clear picture was cable TV's big selling point. But in fact, quite the opposite is true now. Cable and Satellite providers have to feed you all those many channels - including all those that you never watch, but pay for nonetheless - down a tiny cable or finite satellite feed. In order to do that, they compress the data. And that means lower picture quality.
  4. "You need a special digital HD antenna."Ummm, no. The words "HD" or "Digital ready" on an antenna advertisement is a marketing ploy. In most cases, the antenna your grandfather put on the roof 25 years ago will still work. The big difference is that analog TV most often used VHF channels 2-13, while digital TV uses mostly UHF channels 14-51. But, no. There is no such thing as a "digital" or "HD" TV antenna.
  5. "There's nothing on free TV that any one wants to watch!"
    Really? Did you know that about 90% of the most popular TV shows are on broadcast network TV? And most of the shows that aren't on free broadcast TV are available online within a few days or weeks.
So, what's your excuse for not putting up an antenna and getting TV for free? It costs you relatively little money to start saving big bucks.

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