FROM THE EDITOR
The short version of this message: If you receive your local TV from an antenna, you may already have discovered that KOIN, Channel 6, seems to have disappeared. In fact, it went away on June 1. That's the bad news; the good news is that it is still there, but you will have to "rescan for channels" on your TV (or digital TV converter) to get it back.
The long version of this message, for those interested in what the heck is going on, starts with the beginning of the digital TV conversion in the late 1990's. It's relevant, because this same thing will happen later for both KATU, Channel 2, and KNMT, Channel 24, as well as various low-power TV stations in the area.
When the old analog TV system faced the conversion to the new digital and high-definition system, Congress did not want everybody's TV reception to go away overnight. In fact, they didn't want it to go away at all.
So they mandated that the Federal Communications Commission would give every full-power TV station a second channel, most of them in the UHF TV band, on which to duplicate their analog TV service in digital form.
So, probably years before you knew it, if you'd had a digital TV tuner you could have been watching TV digitally here before everybody else.
But, the "channel number" of these stations was also their trademark. KATU is equally if not better known as Channel 2, for example. And it would hurt the TV stations to become known by different channel numbers. Fortunately, the new digital system contained a method by which TV stations could tell your digital receiver upon what channel on your TV set to place the new channel, so the channel in use to send the signal did not have to be disclosed at all.
And when the long decade of "dual TV transmission" ended, and the digital transition ended and the analog signals had gone away, the TV stations could decide whether to keep transmitting on their new digital channels or go back to their original channels. Some did; some didn't, because their signal was better on the new UHF channel.
During the transition, KATU transmitted on both Channel 2 in analog, and on Channel 43 in digital. KOIN, Channel 6, was also on Channel 40 in digital. KNMT, Channel 24, was also on Channel 45 in digital. Those channels in the 40's is what has led to the latest change. More on that in a minute.
Also staying on their new channels were KRCW, Channel 32, now digital on Channel 33; and KPDX, Channel 49, which is actually transmitting on Channel 30. They won't have to move – nor do the four stations that moved back to their original channels at the end of the digital transition. KGW is still really on Channel 8, KOPB is still on Channel 10, KPTV is still on Channel 12, and KPXG is still on Channel 22. No problems for them either.
The FCC and Congress, in the meantime, discovered that wireless companies would pay huge sums to be able to "buy" and use frequencies that were in use for UHF TV – and, in three separate auctions, the UHF band has been nibbled away. The band, which originally went from Channel 14 to 83, was cut to stop at Channel 69 a long time ago. The next round of nibbling took it down to stop at Channel 51. And now, in what we fervently hope is the last whittling down of the UHF TV band, it is going to stop after Channel 36.
So every TV station transmitting above Channel 36 now has to move down into what is left of the UHF band, without disrupting stations already there. Full-power stations get priority, and the several local low-power TV stations will get fitted in there somehow if they can.
And that "repacking" of the UHF TV band is now getting underway. KOIN, Channel 6, will still be called Channel 6, and will appear on your TV as "Channel 6", but it moved down from the channel it has been using to send out its signal for a decade – Channel 40, to Channel 25 – on June 1. When you "rescan" your digital receiver, your TV or converter will find it there, and will again be able show it on "Channel 6".
Still to come at some point, KATU, Channel 2, will have to move its transmission down from Channel 43 soon – to Channel 24 – but it still will appear on your receiver at Channel 2 when you "rescan" after it takes place.
Ironically, that means that KNMT, Channel 24, which for ten years has been transmitting on Channel 45, will now be using Channel 32, and will still be called Channel 24.
KRCW, Channel 32, will not be affected, since it has actually been on Channel 33 for ten years, though it is still called Channel 32. And Channel 49 will still be called that, even though there now isn't really any Channel 49 to transmit on anymore!
We gave you more detail than you needed, probably, and may even have confused you – but now you have the whole story. And the good news, again, is that all your local full-power TV stations will still be known by their former Channel numbers, and will still be found on your TV dial at the same Channel after it is all done – you just have to "rescan" to keep seeing them there!
Now, if you are on cable or satellite TV service, you actually won't have to do anything, because your provider will do it for you to keep the signals coming. But because the majority of the most-interesting new TV networks being offered on "digital additional signals" by the local TV stations are often not carried by such TV providers, you will still need to receive the local TV stations to see them.
Plus, you can get some 50 TV stations free off an antenna now, these days, in Southeast Portland – which for some people makes a cable or satellite TV service unnecessary.
We suggest, even if you are on cable or satellite, that you also receive the local TV stations from an antenna anyway. If you haven't been, you will be pleasantly surprised by all the new networks exclusively available there.