TV / FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Analog TV ends June 12, 2009. What do I need to know to keep watching WPSU?

Where can I find information about WPSU's digital channels?

Currently, WPSU broadcasts three digital TV signals:

  • 3.1 WPSU HD - High Definition programs
  • 3.2 WPSU - Digital version of our analog signal
  • 3.3 WPSU PBS World - News and documentary channel

What are the recent TV schedule changes and updates?

The printed program guide goes to press almost a month in advance and sometimes, schedule changes are unavoidable. WPSU's online schedule reflects changes within 24-hours of being made.

I missed a show; will it be repeated?

Many of WPSU's primetime programs are repeated during the same evening. Search the online schedule for more information.

Where can I find WPSU-TV's basic tune-in information?

WPSU-TV Channel 3 (NTSC Analog) transmits on TV channel 3 from Clearfield, Pa.

The tower's geographical coordinates are:

  • 41 degrees 7 minutes 20 seconds North
  • 78 degrees, 26 minutes, 30 seconds West

The transmitting effective radiated power is 42kw. The antenna height is 289m AGL, or 951m AMSL (Above Mean Sea Level).

WPSU-TV is carried on many cable companies in central Pennsylvania. Contact your cable company to determine your local channel.

WPSU-TV is carried on satellite (DBS - Direct Broadcast Satellite), DirecTV, and Dish Network (Echostar) in the Johnstown/Altoona market, which includes the following counties: Bedford, Blair, Cambria, Cameron, Clearfield, Centre, Elk, Huntingdon, Jefferson, and Somerset.

Where can I find information about WPSU's digital service?

WPSU's digital service transmits from the same location as the analog service, on TV channel 15. There is also a repeater transmitter in Pine Grove Mills, Pa.

Viewers can access WPSU-DT on digital channels 3.1, 3.2, etc., depending on how many program streams are being transmitted at that time. The PSIP (program system information protocol) tells the TV: "We're channel 30, but the viewer will know us as channel 9.1."

The effective radiated power (ERP) of the Clearfield transmitter is 867kW. The ERP for our Pine Grove Mills repeater transmitter is 50kW.

At this time (September 2008), WPSU-DT's digital and high definition TV programming is carried by cable systems including Comcast Cable, D&E, Atlantic Broadband Cable, and others. WPSU-DT is not currently carried by satellite companies. The satellite company DirecTV has indicated that they will carry WPSU's HD channel in the near future. Dish has not yet announced their intentions.

Why does the strength of my signal sometimes change?

Television signals cannot be transmitted through hills or mountains. However, technology allows the signals to go over and around hills so that you do not need to have a direct line-of-sight to WPSU's transmitter in order to receive its signal.

The off-air TV signal is similar to light. It can be reflected by objects such as hillsides, buildings, automobiles, and people. The television's receiving antenna picks up a signal directly from the transmitter, and simultaneously from a number of reflected signals. These reflected signals may interfere with the direct signal. This condition is called "multipath reception." On analog televisions, it shows up as "ghosts."

Because the wavelengths of TV stations are not the same, the multipath situation is different for each individual channel. The location of the antenna may also affect the amount of multipath interference.

The strength of your TV signal may also be affected by weather conditions. If you live in a marginal or distant receiving location, changes in weather may affect your reception. The signal may also change with time of day and time of year.

Most viewers are not affected by weather changes. When a TV signal reaches a certain minimum strength, an increase does not cause much perceptible change. As long as the signal stays above this minimum value, the viewer is not aware that the strength of the signal is changing.

Can you provide any information about outdoor antennas?

A good outdoor antenna will provide the best reception. Consumer Reports magazine periodically rates outdoor antennas. Look for a copy at your local library.

A better resource available to people with Internet access is the non-profit organization, AntennaWeb. The Web site offers a database based on zip code that rates reception areas by a color code. The consumer electronics industry, and specifically the antenna manufacturers, have agreed to use this color code on their products.

In general, you want a directional antenna which receives signals from one direction only. Do not use an omni-directional antenna that receives signals from all directions.

An outdoor antenna should be aimed for best reception. In most cases, best reception will occur with the antenna pointed at the WPSU-TV transmitter in Clearfield or Pine Grove Mills for digital reception in the State College region.

In some cases, best reception will occur with the antenna pointed in a different direction. Experimentation is key.

Outdoor antennas deteriorate with age. Metals corrode, and wind can flex the lead-in until metal breaks. An outdoor antenna should be inspected for damage annually.

Can you provide any information about indoor antennas?

No indoor antenna is as good as an outdoor antenna. However, landlords, deed restrictions, temporary housing, and other conditions may hamper your use of an outdoor antenna. As a compromise, some folks put an outdoor antenna in their attic, which offers better reception than an indoor antenna and eliminates roof concerns.

In the late 1990s, Congress passed the "Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act." This established a federal law that overrides any and all state, local, condo association, landlord, etc. rules against outside antennas, including off-air broadcast antennas, as long as the installed antenna does not interfere with a neighbor's view. If the landlord entity making the rule does not wish to acknowledge the federal mandate, the individual or group may need to hire a lawyer, but will eventually win. Many apartment managers and condo associations have come into compliance with the law and established areas on their buildings for antennas.

"Rabbit ears" antennas may work in strong signal areas. Find a dealer who will let you try the antenna on a money-back agreement. The antenna may or may not work at your location.

Some indoor antennas have a built-in RF booster amplifier, which increases the strength of the signal before it goes to the TV. The instruction sheet for the antenna will list whether or not it includes an amplifier.

Coaxial cable (RG-6 or RG-6U) can be used to connect the TV antenna to your receiver. A matching transformer, known as a balun, may have to be used on both ends of the cable. See your antenna and receiver instruction manuals for more information. Connect the coaxial cable only to the terminals marked "75 ohms." If the terminals are marked "300 ohms," a balun must be used between the cable and the terminals. The dealer who sells the antenna can advise you.

How do I order a DVD copy of a program?

Many PBS programs can be purchased through Shop PBS. WPSU's local programs can be purchased through Media Sales. They can be reached toll-free at 1-800-770-2111.

Why don't you show my favorite programs from years ago?

When WPSU acquires a program or series, we acquire broadcast rights only. Each contract for each show specifies two different windows of opportunity—the number of times we can broadcast the show and the time frame in which those broadcasts can take place. The contract can run from a couple of days, to a couple of months, to several years. The most common "term" is for three years.

After the term of broadcast expires, all rights revert back to the original producers and WPSU is no longer able to air it. The producers can then do whatever they want with the show—retire it, sell it elsewhere, sell it to PBS stations again, etc. Often, the original contracts with participants in the program can limit future activities.

How can I contact PBS Headquarters?

Public Broadcasting Service
2100 Crystal Drive
Arlington, VA 22202-3785
viewer@pbs.org