Channel 8 channel answered

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: You have answered many questions. Let’s see if you can answer this one.

For several years I have always been able to get WMTW Channel 8 with rabbit ears, as I don’t have cable or satellite. But lately I am unable to get it. Some others I know have the same problem.

I called WMTW and spoke to a man, who said maybe my location was the problem. I told him that I have lived at this location for years and was always able to get Channel 8.

Well, he said, maybe you have some trees in the area that are causing interference. Well the trees in the area are the same as they have been for years, so what is your explanation now?

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He had no explanation that made any sense. He then said maybe it’s your television, and I explained to him that I have a Vizio television on which I get channels 6.1, 6.2, 10.1, 10.2, 10.3, 10.4, 13.1, 13.2 and 23.1 clearly with my rabbit ears.

OK, Sun Spots, answer my question: Why I can’t get WMTW now, as I have for years? Thanks. — No Name, Auburn

ANSWER: Well, Sun Spots knows a challenge when she sees one!

But actually she’s pleased to address this question, because she, too, has an antenna and has not been able to get Channel 8 either. However, she does live a bit out in the woods and thought it might be trees (which can grow and then interfere, as readers may have noted in the Dec. 23 letter about satellite coverage).

She has also noticed seasonal changes. In the summer when the trees are fully leafed out, she only gets MPBN (Channel 10), but as soon as the leaves fall, WMTW and a couple other stations usually appear, but no Channel 8 this winter.

This is not a big issue for Sun Spots, but it is a matter of some curiosity to her as well as an issue for No Name, so she emailed with Gregory Roehr, WMTW’s director of engineering, who had previously answered technical questions for the column. He wrote:

“The Auburn-Lewiston area can be challenging for signal reception for our station, as you obviously already are aware of. One of my engineering staff lives in Auburn near downtown and doesn’t always receive WMTW clearly due to his living on the back side of a hill from our transmitter site. Sometimes there are terrain challenges; sometimes there are weather challenges.

“Here are some suggestions to improve reception of our station, as I have made to other viewers who may experience receptions difficulties from time to time (quite often with success):

“My first recommendation would be to perform a channel scan on your tuner box or television to try and re-acquire our signal. If that is not fruitful, you might want to adjust your antenna for better orientation or check that there isn’t any new foliage between your home and our transmitter site in West Baldwin that might be blocking our signal.

“Also, an outdoor antenna will generally provide better signal reception than an indoor antenna. A re-scan for available channels should be undertaken after each antenna adjustment or change, as today’s digital receivers do not “pick up” faint signals the way older analog TVs did to aid in antenna aiming.

“We transmit over the air from West Baldwin on VHF channel 8. The VHF channel that we use differs from other DTV stations who now transmit on UHF frequencies in that it requires a VHF-capable antenna (usually has longer elements or “tines” than UHF antennas).

“We transmit at the maximum allowable power per our FCC license requirements, and check that our output power levels are adhered to in our four-times daily transmitter logging procedures. We receive and monitor our off-air signal at our Auburn studios and master control center from an antenna mounted atop the one-story section of our building (no tower mounting, as we want to emulate what our off-air viewers would have at their homes).

“We have not recorded any significant changes in signal strength at our location in Auburn other than those caused by occasional weather or other atmospheric anomalies. While our transmission equipment is capable of sending out a stronger signal, we cannot exceed the power levels that were set by the FCC for the Digital Television Transition.

“I hope this information is helpful for you. Please feel free to keep the conversation going as you make further attempts to tune us in; we appreciate every viewer and want to help in what ways we can.”

Sun Spots hopes No Name will write and let her know what action he took and how it turned out. 

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to sunspots@sunjournal.com.

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