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Digital TV Questions & Answers

More digital questions and answers at PBS.org

What is digital television?

The picture you currently receive is based on a 50-year-old analog transmission system. In December 1996, the FCC approved plans for a new era of television - digital television. In a digital system, images and sounds are captured and transmitted using the same digital technology found in computers. This digital revolution will not only dramatically improve the quality of the television picture, but also will make possible the over-the-air delivery of several simultaneous channels to viewers. Digital television makes it possible for us to offer high definition television and multicasting in standard definition television.

What is high definition television?

Digital technology allows Wyoming PBS to broadcast programs in much higher quality and clarity than with analog television. Programs broadcast at the highest level of quality are referred to as High Definition or HD. With up-to-date television sets, viewers will be able to receive high-quality, crystal clear pictures on their televisions, which will be displayed in a wide screen format with CD-quality surround sound.

What is standard definition television?

Some programs may be broadcast at a slightly lower quality than HD and are referred to as Standard Definition or SD. These programs can be in the widescreen format. In general, the quality of the SD picture will surpass what you see on your older analog television set.

What is multicasting?

This new technology allows Wyoming PBS to broadcast several channels simultaneously. We are currently transmitting one Standard Definition (SD) channel and one High Definition (HD) channel. Our new channel numbering scheme (KCWC-DT 4.1, KCWC-HD 4.5) reflects this new ability.

Do I have to buy a new television set? Will I be able to watch DTV on my old set?

You can continue to use your older television set if you are a cable TV or DISH Network customer (this only applies to DISH Network subscribers in Natrona, Fremont, Converse, Hot Springs and Washakie counties). If you watch TV using an antenna (no cable or satellite), you will need to purchase a set top digital tuner.

Your older analog television set will not display digital programming with the clarity and quality of an up-todate digital set.

In addition to our digital broadcasts, we will continue broadcasting an analog signal until February 2009. Congress and the FCC have mandated that all US television stations discontinue analog transmission at that time. Until then you can watch your favorite public television programs without having to purchase a new upgraded set or a separate digital tuner.

What is the analog cutoff date?

By February 17, 2009, all US television broadcasters must complete the transition to digital broadcasting and discontinue analog signal transmission. To keep using your older analog television set after that date will require the purchase of a set top digital tuner or you may purchase programming from a cable or satellite provider. Alternately you may choose to purchase a new digital television set with a tuner included.

What is a set top digital converter box?

A set top digital tuner is a separate accessory that will receive digital signals and provide an output compatible with older analog television sets. This allows viewers to keep using older television sets with the benefit of seeing all the new over the air digital channels. The digital set top tuner is a small box with a remote control similar to the set top tuners made available by cable and satellite providers. Set top digital tuners can be purchased from electronics and television retailer and range from $50 and up. In 2008, the NTIA (a federal government agency) will issue each TV household a $40 coupon, good towards the purchase of a set top digital tuner from a participating retailer.

Do I have to use an antenna again? What about cable or satellite?

If you use an existing rooftop antenna, you may need only to connect your antenna wiring to your new digital television set or set top digital tuner. If you live in Fremont County and are installing a new antenna, point it toward the KCWC digital transmitter located on South Pass. If you live outside Fremont County, please refer to the chart below which shows locations of our other digital tv transmitters and channel numbers. We are continuing to build out our extensive network of digital transmitters, and will eventually have state-wide digital television coverage.

In the meantime, we have worked with cable tv systems state-wide and DISH Network (Natrona, Fremont, Converse, Hot Springs and Washakie County residents only) to bring their customers Wyoming PBS programming.

How much do digital televisions cost? What should I look for?

Prices for digital televisions continue to drop. Cost varies widely depending on the size, the level of capability and the options provided. Some sets include analog and or DTV tuners. Be sure that your set includes a digital tuner or expect to make alternate arrangements with a television provider such as cable or satellite. Digital televisions are available for less than $250. However, some retail stores are still selling analog only television sets - but these must carry a warning label, stating they are analog only, and will not be able to receive broadcast television channels after February 17, 2009.

To enjoy the highest quality HD picture, look for a set capable of displaying 1080 lines on the screen and a high resolution of at least 1366 x 768. Sets with higher contrast ratios will make the picture more crisp and realistic. Note that the labeling on some sets claim to be "HD compatible" while only having a limited display of 480 or 720 lines. Digital set top tuners for your older analog televisions are available now. Shop carefully and speak with a well informed sales person.

How do I know what's on?

Check out the station's online programming schedule at http://www.wyoptv.org/programming/schedules/ for complete schedule information for all of our digital channels. You can also use the on-screen program guides provided by your cable tv service or DISH Network (Natrona, Fremont, Converse, Hot Springs and Washakie County residents only). If you receive Wyoming PBS on a digital television set and an antenna, our program schedule is available on your on-screen menu.

Are other Wyoming TV stations providing digital television service?

Currently, KSGW-DT in Sheridan is on-the-air with ABC network programming, and KGWN-DT in Cheyenne is on the air with CBS network programming.

Where can the Wyoming PBS digital television programs be seen?

Antenna viewers:
Big Piney
Rock Springs

Cable viewers:
Green River
Rock Springs