Television has always been free and in the early days the antenna was the only way a person could receive TV.
“You mean, you guys are wireless?” Yes! We’ve always been wireless. We’re one of the original “wireless" delivery systems. Truth is, over-the-air television provides the very best picture and sound. You receive the signal at KBTC’s full quality level – it hasn’t been squeezed to fit into a cable or satellite “stream.” And there’s no monthly fee.
Digital TV allows us to offer more programming for people who are rediscovering over-the-air reception. A St. Louis based antenna manufacturer reports that sales have more than tripled since the digital conversion. A recent TV trade article reported that Los Angeles has 70 over-the-air channels and nearly a half million additional homes have installed antennas.
For more information on antennas and receivers, read below!
KBTC broadcasts its primary channel, 28.1 in HD. You can receive this signal free, over-the-air with your antenna and either a digital converter box or a digital tuner in your television set. KBTC also offers 28.2 MHz Worldview and 28.3 TVW.
Feel free to contact us with any comments or questions you may have. To receive KBTC's HD signal through your cable provider, please contact them directly.
Please visit our Technical Alerts page for information regarding any known service issues.
North Sound Viewers:
KBTC also transmits from Mount Constitution in the San Juan Islands.
This new signal serves the communities of North Puget Sound and Southern British Columbia. The transmitter is owned by World Television of Washington and our programming partnership serves these communities with KBTC’s complete program line-up, including HD, available on 28.1 and MHz Worldview on 28.2.
Seattle area viewers:
KBTC also transmits from Capitol Hill in Seattle.
This new signal serves the communities that were no longer able to receive our digital signal after the digital transition. If you live in the North Queen Anne area or other areas with a hill to your south, please try re-scanning your digital converter or television.
CH. 65 viewers:
K65BU CH 65 which covered the southwestern portion of the state has gone off the air as of December 2009. On January 12, 2010, K41KT digital service to this area was turned on. Viewers in this area are now receiving a digital over the air retransmission of KBTC DTV. The broadcast channel is 41. When scanning for new channels, K41KT will show us as 28.1 and 28.2.
What do you need to do to receive this service? You will need either a digital converter box hooked up to your existing analog television, or, if you have a newer television that has "ATSC" written on it, all you need to do is re-scan your channels to receive Channel 41. Continue reading on this page for more information and resources regarding the transition to digital television.
Along with a clearer picture and better sound quality, digital broadcasting frees up airwaves for emergency services to communicate. All local broadcast TV stations have ceased their analog broadcast.
PBS has set up a page to hear your feedback and to provide resources to answer your questions regarding the transition.
You can visit the PBS Digital Transition website for more information or e-mail KBTC with your questions.
ATSC, HD, DTV... What are all of these terms you're hearing? Click here.
KBTC broadcasts from just south of Pt . Defiance park in Tacoma. Our digital channels are available to viewers in the areas where our transmitter signal is available:
KBTC's digital channels are broadcast over the air for free. Anyone in KBTC’s main transmitter reception areas can get them. You probably don’t need a new digital television, but if you already have one, you’re half way there. If you currently have cable or a satellite TV you can still get these free over-the-air channels in addition to your other services. You need a television with a built-in digital receiver or a digital converter box designed for older model televisions.
This is a picture of the KBTC digital signal that was being received in our lobby on an old, Zenith television (notice the dial tuning). The digital converter box is sitting on top of the television. If you want to receive and watch an HD signal in HD, you will need an HD television.
If you currently:
- Have an Analog TV and don't subscribe to cable or satellite, you'll need to get either the converter box or a newer TV to get TV reception.
- Have Cable or Satellite service, you don't need to do anything. (Although some cable providers are now requiring the use of a digital cable box)
- Have additional Analog TVs in your house that are not hooked up to cable or satellite, you'll need to get a converter box for those TVs or replace them.
- Keep your existing analog TV and purchase a converter box.
- Connect your existing TV to a pay service such as Cable or Satellite.
- Purchase a TV with a built-in digital tuner.
- Check you owner's manual or manufacturer's website to see if your TV has a digital tuner. If you see labels on your TV that say "Digital Input" or "ATSC", you have a digital TV.
- Your Antenna, VCR and DVD player will continue to work. You do not need a special antenna or other new home electronic devices. Products such as Blu-Ray DVD players offer an HD output, but are not required in any way for the digital conversion. They will also play your existing DVDs. You can purchase an HD or Digital antenna, but it may not be necessary depending on where you live. If you receive KBTC or other broadcast TV stations off-air and have a good signal, the same should be true with your existing antenna hooked up to a Digital TV or converter box.
The installation of the converter box is simple. Basically, if you have hooked up a VCR or DVD player, you can hook up a digital converter box. KBTC does not recommend any particular manufacturer or vendor.
Once you’ve purchased the converter, the installation is simple:
- Connect the output of the receiver to the composite inputs on your TV. (the yellow, red and white jacks)
- If you have screw-on terminals, connect the cable to an adapter that will allow you to use the screw-on terminals on your TV. (We were doing this on our TV in the KBTC lobby)
- Connect your new or existing antenna to the antenna input on the receiver.
- Turn on the TV, select the input you are using, (or turn the TV to channel 3) turn on the receiver, and follow the simple (really, they are) set up instructions.
- You will then be receiving all of KBTC's digital channels, as well as the digital channels available from all other broadcasters in your area.
If you have a newer TV, with an ATSC / HDTV tuner built in, it’s even simpler:
- Connect the antenna to the antenna input on your TV.
- Select the antenna/ATSC tuner input on your TV.
- Follow the set up instructions.
- Start watching!
Think you need a new antenna? The difference between analog and digital in terms of reception is that a weak analog signal is comparable to NO digital signal. Digital is, more or less, on or off, with a bit of breakup in between. KBTC does not endorse any particular antenna vendor or model, but take a look at Antenna Web to see where local stations broadcast in your area. Here is a link to a resource for you to research and price HD and DTV antennas. ERI in Tumwater and C&G Electronics in Tacoma are local sources for antennas, as well as your local home improvement warehouse.
If all of these acronyms and terms are confusing, please click here for a short glossary!
By law, television stations nationwide must switch from the old method of transmitting TV signals (analog) to digital television (DTV). Check out DTV Answers for a comprehensive guide to the DTV transition process.