Viewers unhappy with DTV reception and station choice

Americans are buying digital converter boxes in droves and preparing for the end of analog TV, which was . But so far, not everyone is happy with digital reception.

Several readers reported reception problems in response to in my . "With analog TV I get 11 stations," wrote Mike Farrell in an email that became the subject of the second post. "With digital I get 3. I have 2 different model boxes on 2 different TVs. Digital is a joke. However, I now have time to catch up on my reading."

A flood of similar mail soon followed. "I think there will be a great lot of upset folks when they, like me, find out that the concept of 'Just plug-in a converter box and enjoy digital TV' is a huge falsehood," wrote Dave Thompson in an email. "I have been wrestling with this for weeks and haven't got it working right."

Another reader named Mark Crawford complained that "I use to receive about 15 channels analog... I am only receiving 4 in digital."

Eteonline, commenting to my answer to Farrell, pointed to the change in broadcast frequencies. "Many stations which have broadcast on the VHF TV band, channels 2-13, have their digital stations located on the UHF band channels 14-69," he noted. The matter is made worse because "they call their digital broadcasts on the UHF band by the channel number of their analog broadcasts on VHF."

JR wrote that another common explanation for fewer channels -- the oft-reported fact that a weak analog signal results in poor reception, while a weak digital one results in no reception at all -- doesn't always apply. "There most certainly is lousy reception with digital." Since plugging in a converter box, "I have witnessed every sort of pixelating, dropping out of sound and other assorted 'ailments' -- along with no signal at all -- normally in bad weather."