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Are We Ready for DTV — Part 1 

It’s the biggest thing to happen to television since we switched from black and white to color. The transition to digital — and it’s nearly here. By now, just about everyone knows that on June 12th, TV stations will stop broadcasting their analog signal. But finding the digital signal hasn’t been easy for everyone, and some people still have questions.”What antenna is going to work for me?” That’s the number one question posed to Jeremy Rackliff about DTV. The number two question? “What do I need to hook it up?”The Radio Shack manager has been fielding questions about the switch to digital TV since late last year. But he says there’s still confusion out there. First — HD and DTV aren’t the same thing.”They’re two separate pieces,” he says. “The high definition is just a very good quality picture that comes across and is aired on some shows, not all, versus the digital transition is actually the airwaves that are sending this picture to you.”Getting that digital signal is what’s causing problems for some people. The landscape in our state doesn’t make it easy.”Digital signals are very directional and very subject to interference,” says TV5 Program Director Steve Hiltz. “If there’s anything in the way or if your antenna is not in the exact right place, literally just moving it a few feet can help.”He says now that most folks have converter boxes, if they needed them for their analog TVs, the biggest challenge is positioning their antennas properly.”Finding that spot is a lot harder with digital television,” he says. “A few degrees off could make a huge difference in your ability to receive a signal.”Every TV and every house is in a different spot relative to the closest TV transmitter, so there’s no magic answer for everyone. Hiltz says it might take a lot of old-fashioned experimentation. “Although it’s been burdensome, I think in the end, like everything else that happens with technology, it will be worth it.” He says we’ll see a cleaner, better picture.But what about those who’ve tried everything, and they’re still not getting the digital signal? For now, there’s cable — if it’s available in your area — or satellite.”I don’t think the difficulties are going to go away. I have to say honestly there might be folks out there who can’t receive a digital signal at their current location. And those are going to be the areas we have to look into what’s the next step. I think that’s going to be a federal and state issue, probably primarily a federal issue,” he says.—Tomorrow we’ll hear about some bumps in the road to DTV, and we’ll talk to a local antenna and satellite installer.If you still have questions about your conversion, the FCC will be holding DTV clinics at the following locations in Maine. You can also log on to www.dtvforme.com for more information.DTV CLINICS—Date: May 11, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 830 Main St., Presque Isle ME, 04769— Date: May 12, 2009Time: 5:30 PM-8:00 PM Location: 389 Main St., Madawaska ME, 04756— Date: May 13, 2009Time: 3:00 PM-7:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 830 Main St., Presque Isle ME, 04769— Date: May 19, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 18 Elm Plz, Waterville ME 04901—Date: May 20, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 603 Center St, Auburn, ME 04210— Date: May 21, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 688 Hogan Rd, Bangor ME 04401—Date: May 22, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 58 Western Avenue, Augusta, ME 04330—Date: May 23-24, 2009Time: 9:00 AM-2:00 PM Location: Spring Auto Festival & Antique Aeroplane Show, Owls Head Transportation Museum, Owls Head, ME 04854— Date: May 26, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 18 Elm Plz, Waterville ME 04901— Date: May 27, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 603 Center St, Auburn, ME 04210—Date: May 28, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 688 Hogan Rd, Bangor ME 04401— Date: May 29, 2009Time: 4:00 PM-8:00 PM Location: K-Mart, 58 Western Avenue, Augusta, ME 04330