Society of Broadcast Engineers
CHAPTER 24, Inc., MADISON, WI
relevant to the operation and membership of the Madison,
Wisconsin Chapter of the Society of Broadcast Engineers.
Views expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the
official positions of the Society, its officers, or its
members. SBE Chapter 24, Inc. regrets, but is not liable
for, any omissions or errors.
WISC-DTV, Madison, WI
WISC-TV is on the air and broadcasting in digital from its permanent home on top of the Madison Community Tower. The signal has been maximized in power to best replicate the coverage of its former analog station.
How To Get WISC-TV in HD
First you will need a HD display and a DTV/HD tuner. This can be purchased in two different ways;
• an HD Television set with the tuner built in.
There are several ways to recveive the programming from WISC-TV;
• From Charter Cable by subscribing to their Digital tier of service
• from DirecTV or DISH satellite services by subscribing to their Local into Local programming package (a dish hardware upgrade may be needed for HD)
• from a broadband video provider like TDS or AT&T U-Verse
Unless you are an antenna viewer you should contact the video provider to which you are subscribed to find out which channel on their system is WISC TV. Most carriers will have a WISC TV SD channel and a WISC TV HD channel. Which one you receive will depend on your subscription package. For most subscription services, a Set Top Box will be needed to receive the local channels in HD.
HD Over The Air:
A viewer within the local Madison metropolitan area can usually receive the digital signal using an indoor antenna. A viewer located outside the immediate Madison area will likely need an outdoor rooftop antenna to pickup the digital signal reliably. Regardless of your location, the most reliable reception of a digital TV station is via on outdoor antenna. In extreme cases, the outdoor antenna will need to be erected on a tower or structure higher than the rooftop to pickup the signal. Generally speaking, the farther away from Madison the viewer is located, the higher the receiving antenna will need to be. The receiving antenna will also need to be carefully installed so that it points in the direction of the WISC-TV transmitting antenna located on the west edge of Madison.
WISC-TV Digital Technical Information
WISC-TV's Digital transmission is on Channel 50. A viewer will need a reliable UHF antenna system capable of receiving the higher UHF channels. Some older antenna splitters and amplifiers will not work all the way up to channel 50. Care should be taken that none of those limited components exist in your antenna system. The entire antenna system must pass frequencies up to 692 Mhz in order to receive WISC-TV Digital from the air. Some antenna components have their operating range stamped on them. If not a quick check with the manufacturer or dealer will reveal this information. If the component is so old that neither method of information is available, it most likely cannot pass signals high enough to receive WISC TV Digital and should be replaced.
Unlike an analog TV channel where the picture and sound get "fuzzy" when the signal is weak, with digital TV a viewer will receive no digital transmission at all if the antenna is not properly installed and pointed. Also if the digital signal is marginal it may look good one minute and get blocky or stop completely the next minute. This is an indication that the signal being received on your antenna is not as strong as it needs to be for reliable reception. Sometimes simply re-aiming the antenna will resolve the problem, sometimes the antenna will need to be raised or replaced.
When the standards were written for digital television, virtual channel capability was included so that stations could stay connected with their viewers on their old analog channel number. So even though WISC-TV Digital transmits on TV Channel 50, its programs will appear on the viewer's DTV Program Guide as channels 3-1, 3-2... etc. From a viewer's point of view WISC-TV Digital is still channel 3. On some older receivers a menu option has to be activated to enable the tuner to extract program information from the off-air digital television signals in order to display the programs at their virtual channel number. On those tuners WISC TV's Digital services will appear as 50-1 and 50-2 unless that menu option is activated.
REMEMBER to Channel Scan!!
Its important to become familiar with your TV tuner's "channel scan" or "channel search" process. Because Digital TV tuners are actually computer based they operate heavily on memory tables to decode digital channels. When a channel scan is initially done during the installation of a new TV set, the TV tuner will store all the relevant information needed to tune in a digital channel. After that when you tune in the channel the tuner quickly looks up the technical parameters from the memory table and tunes the channel from that information. In some tuners however, if the signal of a digital TV station goes away for an extended period of time because the station shut down for maintenance or because the receiving antenna is on the edge of providing sufficient signal from a station, that station's information in the memory table will be erased. From that point on that station cannot be tuned in even though it has returned to the air or the antenna is again providing enough signal. To the viewer the station will appear Off the Air even though they are not. The only way to once again tune in the channel is to do a "channel scan" or "channel search" on the tuner so that the tuning information will once again be stored in the memory table. This same thing happens when a station changes tuning data in their signal. The best habit to get into is to do a channel scan first thing whenever you notice that a TV channel isn't coming in any more or the set displays "Insufficient Signal" or "Loss of Signal" when tuning a channel.
WISC-TV Digital provides three program services. Channel 3-1 provides local programming and is the CBS network affiliate. In addition to HD CBS programming, WISC TV Digital 3-1 also transmits other programming in HD known as "syndicated programming" (like Dr. Oz, and others). In addition all local WISC TV newscasts and locally produced public affairs or entertainment programming (like For the Record, Sidelines, and Urban Theater) are transmitted in HD. Occasionally there will be SD archive content within an HD program. When that happens the SD content will appear with bars on the left and right of a wide screen display in order to retain the correct dimensions of the original picture content.
The second digital service offered on WISC-TV Digital is Channel 3-2 and is called TVW, an affiliate of MyNetworkTV. That channel is broadcast only in Standard Definition and is also available on Channel 14 of Charter Cable and Channel 14 of the DirecTV Local into Local Madison channel package.
The third digital service offered on WISC-TV Digital is Channel 3-3 and is an affiliate of the ION network. That channel is broadcast in Standard Definition Wide Screen format to fill the 16x9 HD screen.
WISC TV Program Guide|
WISC TV Web Site