Signals of distress over poor TV reception

Transmissions from Newcastle are contributing to TV reception problems in places such as Gerringong.

John Chambers lives in the town and he said he had been having issues with his TV reception since the switchover from analogue to digital in 2012. But he said it had become much worse in the past week or so.

‘‘The picture gets pixilated and it gets to the stage where you cannot watch the program,’’ Mr Chambers said.

‘‘It gets so bad that you completely lose the signal. It says ‘no signal available’ on the screen.’’

Mr Chambers said the signal loss had been happening for the past few days and occurred across all free-to-air channels.

He had the antenna reprogrammed about six months ago and said that made some improvement, but a more recent retuning of his TV brought no joy.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority investigated reception issues early this year. It found  the poor reception  could be linked to a phenomenon known as ‘‘seasonal ducting’’, which is affecting the Illawarra’s Knights Hill transmission site.

‘‘This phenomenon can cause distant television transmissions operating on the same channels, in this case Newcastle services, to propagate further than they normally would and cause interference to reception of services from Knights Hill,’’ an authority spokeswoman said.

Viewers in Nowra, whose site used the input from Knights Hill, would experience even more severe reception problems, she said.

Issues such as pixilation could also be related to antenna height or alignment.

The complete loss of picture was likely due to ‘‘restacking’’, as TV channels prepared for the upcoming retune – the final step to digital TV.

The retuning is scheduled to occur in Nowra in May and June for the Illawarra. In the past two weeks, various networks have been doing restacking preparation work, which included planned outages from 9.30am to 3pm on the relevant days.

The website myswitch.digitalready.gov.au will allow people to see the strength of the signal in their area.

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