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Cable Nets Over Air in the 90's?

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  • Cable Nets Over Air in the 90's?

    I was browsing through Jeff Kadet's very impressive logbook (online at http://www.oldtvguides.com/DXPhotos/...G_CH-STATE.xls), and one of the things that popped out at me was a number of major cable networks listed as programming for UHF translators, usually clusters of them in small out-of-the-way towns. I also remember seeing listings like that in the WTFDA TV Station Guide years back.

    Here are the ones Jeff reported:

    CableOverAir.png
    Most surprising is the Spice Channel free-to-air in Iowa Falls! Did kids just flip around the dial and see that?

    So I assume these towns didn't have cable service and came to some agreement with the networks? It doesn't seem like something that would be done today. The only one I remember was MTV2, after it replaced The Box. I don't think any of those converted to digital.

    Does anybody remember seeing these translators or know what the story was behind them?

  • #2
    The system in Alexandria, Minnesota is still operating. (and is digital. I think the one channel that's still analog belongs to KSTP.)

    I'm not entirely sure the Granite Falls system isn't also still operating. It's not entirely clear how these channels are being delivered.

    I think some of these were scrambled. Note that K19DX shows the comment "Not STV" indicating it wasn't scrambled -- presumably the rest were?
    Doug Smith W9WI
    Pleasant View, TN EM66
    http://www.w9wi.com

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by w9wi View Post
      The system in Alexandria, Minnesota is still operating. (and is digital. I think the one channel that's still analog belongs to KSTP.)
      correct its almost all digital. The one analog station (18) is owned by Selective TV. The reason they carry it is because KSAX tower is 26 miles down the road.

      I'm not entirely sure the Granite Falls system isn't also still operating. It's not entirely clear how these channels are being delivered.
      they are all scrambled. I have a relative in that area and there is no free OTA from that (they own 12 stations there). The PBS and ABC can be had but not locally

      Canada has some too
      Fort St James, BC
      http://fsjtv.ca/TV.html

      Logan Lake, BC
      http://lltvs.com/pdf/Channel_List.pdf

      Comment


      • #4
        Going back to the Alexandria setup (I stop at Fleet Farm on the way to my uncles and scan the TV's there to see if anything is new)
        they use to have "legit" cable stations...but dropped them due to $$ and the way the stations were beamed up on satellite

        2001 (networks removed for sake of showing the cable offerings)
        16 K16CO Alexandria TV Land
        18 K18DG Alexandria GoodLife TV
        32 K32EB Alexandria CBC North
        50 K50DB Alexandria Weather Ch.
        52 K52DZ Alexandria History
        55 K55DI Alexandria FamilyNet
        58 K58DS Alexandria Discovery
        60 K60EJ Alexandria All News Ch.
        62 K62AU Alexandria Odyssey
        65 K65HD Alexandria C-SPAN

        in 07
        21 CBC
        32 FAMILY NET
        34 RFDTV
        47 DISCOVERY
        50 WX
        51 HALLMARK
        52 HISTORY
        55 GAC
        58 MSNBC
        62 C-SPAN
        67 OUTDOOR

        Comment


        • #5
          Yes, many of the systems were scrambled.

          Duncan, Arizona, used to have one of these systems. It had some stations from the Tucson and Phoenix markets plus a few cable networks. The system was an offshoot of the local electric co-op. And yes, they were scrambled: in the Duncan case, 39 was a premium channel and had extra scrambling.

          The only stations that weren't in this system were translators for KUAT and TBN. The KUAT translator is the only remaining broadcast TV station there and was converted to digital by the University of Arizona. KVOA might have at one point owned a Duncan translator and it once had a string of them stretching from Sierra Vista to Snowflake (almost all of that area in the Phoenix market but historically claimed by Tucson stations).

          In 2001, the Duncan system had these channels:

          17: TBN
          23: KUAT
          33: KTVW
          35: CNN
          39: Showtime
          41: KASW
          43: KVOA
          47: KTVK
          49: KSAZ
          51: ESPN
          53: KPHO
          55: WGN
          57: TBS
          65: KUTP
          67: TNN
          69: KGUN

          Apparently the area also received KOVT, the KOAT-TV relay in Silver City (then full-power; Hearst replaced it with an LPTV in recent years so as to not have to maintain a physical public file there).

          By June 2009 the service had been pared down significantly:

          02 silent
          07 silent
          11 silent
          17 TBN*
          20 KUAT*
          33 KTVW
          35 silent
          39 silent
          41 KASW
          43 KVOA*
          45 KUTP
          47 KTVK
          49 KSAZ
          51 silent
          53 KPHO
          55 KUAT
          57 ARTS via satellite
          65 KGUN
          67 KMSB
          69 KOBG

          The service changed slightly the next month and added KOVT, and it slid some channel assignments down. It also had TNT at one point.

          The need for such systems was greatly reduced with satellite, and then the technology became obsolete. It was gone by 2010 (the cable networks faded away first) and the remaining licenses were canceled in 2014.

          Almost all of the information here was compiled by David Hettesheimer (dhett) (Radio Discussions/Radio-Info) in his monthly Arizona TV Stations Update posts. As to the actual scrambling, he noted, "The signals have minimal scrambling - you can pick them up on a portable TV, but there's no sound, and it's like watching a negative image. In addition, they also scramble some of the local stations - IIRC, ch. 49 which translates KSAZ 10 Phoenix is also "scrambled". I would imagine that they pick up the non-local signals via satellite."

          These "wireless cable" systems were a semi-big deal and an intriguing target for DXers. Page through the older VUDs and you'll find references to them.
          Follow En Frecuencia on Medium and Twitter @EnFrecuencia, your Mexican broadcasting blog.

          The Reference Section features the HD Radio map, list of Article 90 reserved band clears, and more.

          Comment


          • #6
            I thought about them being scrambled and told myself "nah!" It's a testament to how hardcore a DXer Jeff was that he IDed scrambled cable nets. Must be borderline impossible when the signal is weak. But the "normal audio" notes make since now.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by egrabow View Post
              I thought about them being scrambled and told myself "nah!" It's a testament to how hardcore a DXer Jeff was that he IDed scrambled cable nets. Must be borderline impossible when the signal is weak. But the "normal audio" notes make since now.
              Consider that a lot of the pictures look like negatives. Here are some of the better examples from his analog image library. The cable systems, in order, are Iowa Falls, Columbus NE, Austin MN, and Little Falls MN:






              In Alexandria one of the TV stations had The Weather Channel, complete with an ancient Weather STAR system (a 4000).
              Follow En Frecuencia on Medium and Twitter @EnFrecuencia, your Mexican broadcasting blog.

              The Reference Section features the HD Radio map, list of Article 90 reserved band clears, and more.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by toyinduluth View Post
                they are all scrambled. I have a relative in that area and there is no free OTA from that (they own 12 stations there). The PBS and ABC can be had but not locally
                So Granite Falls is indeed still being transmitted on UHF LPTVs. The website indicated they were scrambled but wasn't clear whether they were still transmitted on UHF or on some microwave service.
                Doug Smith W9WI
                Pleasant View, TN EM66
                http://www.w9wi.com

                Comment


                • #9
                  Many years ago (late 70s? early 80s?) Philly had a channel 57 OTA, scrambled, pay service. I believe it was called, "WHT." It used a set-top box descrambler connected to a little UHF Yagi aimed at Philly. I may have one of those boxes buried out in the shed. I see if I can dig it out and take a picture of it.

                  73, Ed NN2E
                  Owner / Operator - Murphy's Law Test Site & Thunderstorm Proving Grounds
                  "You Might Be a Redneck If...
                  Your TV is on 24/7.
                  Your TV has been permanently on for over a decade.
                  The only time your TV is off is during a power outage.
                  Your TV gets 512 channels, but you go outside to use the bathroom.
                  Your new TV is sitting on top of your old TV.
                  Your TV costs more than all of your other furniture.
                  Your deer-stand has a TV antenna on it.
                  Your cable provider has no idea that you exist."
                  Jeff Foxworthy

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Raymie View Post
                    In Alexandria one of the TV stations had The Weather Channel, complete with an ancient Weather STAR system (a 4000).
                    they still did as of maybe 4 months ago

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by w9wi View Post
                      So Granite Falls is indeed still being transmitted on UHF LPTVs. The website indicated they were scrambled but wasn't clear whether they were still transmitted on UHF or on some microwave service.
                      its UHF. A tvfool report for GF
                      http://www.tvfool.com/?option=com_wr...f1f0b9d8e50ef0

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by NN2E View Post
                        Many years ago (late 70s? early 80s?) Philly had a channel 57 OTA, scrambled, pay service. I believe it was called, "WHT." It used a set-top box descrambler connected to a little UHF Yagi aimed at Philly. I may have one of those boxes buried out in the shed. I see if I can dig it out and take a picture of it.

                        73, Ed NN2E
                        Owner / Operator - Murphy's Law Test Site & Thunderstorm Proving Grounds
                        UHF subscription television stations were common (similar type of equipment) in the early 80s in major markets, as some of these areas lacked cable.

                        You're thinking of two stations with one stroke: 67 New York ("WHT") and 57 Philadelphia (which broadcast the local premium cable channel PRISM after running SelecTV 1981-83). Chicago at one point had multiple; while 66 "Spectrum" folded up, 44 "ON-TV" lasted into 1985. Boston (27, 68), Detroit (20, 31), Phoenix (15), LA (22, 52), DC/Baltimore (50/54), St. Louis (30), Cleveland (61), Dallas (33 and 27), etc.

                        The most common scrambler was SSAVI by Zenith, but that was defeated relatively easily. It was the entrance of cable into these areas and the continuing piracy problems that marked the end for these services.
                        Follow En Frecuencia on Medium and Twitter @EnFrecuencia, your Mexican broadcasting blog.

                        The Reference Section features the HD Radio map, list of Article 90 reserved band clears, and more.

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                        • #13
                          Also there's a list of channels available.

                          Some channels require the "Expanded" STB and I have to wonder if they are using MPEG-4 compression and/or ATSC A/70 encrypted DTV standards.

                          These are the multiplexes on the system:

                          2.x: KTCA
                          10.x: KWCM (this is not part of the system)
                          14.x: MVTV Channel, WCCO and five cable channels
                          16.x: HSN, KSTP, KARE and its weather subchannel
                          21.x: QVC, KSTC, some diginets, Hallmark and ESPN
                          22.1: AMGTV (odd that this is the only thing on the 22 multiplex)
                          24.x: ShopHQ, Fox Sports North, BTN, Weather Channel
                          29.1: BIZ TV
                          32.x: TBN but only three services
                          40.x: EWTN, CW, GRIT, FX and three Discovery networks
                          41.x: NASA TV, KMSP, WFTC, Fox Sports 1
                          49.x: Various cable channels.

                          It's worth noting that only a couple of stations on each mux are available with the "Basic" box. Only one or two on the 14, 21, 24, 40 and 49 muxes are available in "Basic".

                          I'm reminded of what Azteca did with HiTV, a failed service that used the bandwidth of its two (or three) stations in Mexico City, Toluca and Guadalajara to broadcast about 20 channels total and also used MPEG-4. It fell apart because the SCT ruled that they could not broadcast a pay service over a regular broadcast TV concession.
                          Follow En Frecuencia on Medium and Twitter @EnFrecuencia, your Mexican broadcasting blog.

                          The Reference Section features the HD Radio map, list of Article 90 reserved band clears, and more.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by toyinduluth View Post
                            So how do DXers ID these translators without decoding equipment? Does PSIP still work or is it necessary to use a tool like TSReader?

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by egrabow View Post
                              So how do DXers ID these translators without decoding equipment? Does PSIP still work or is it necessary to use a tool like TSReader?
                              They are definitely ATSC television services, and if they are using A/70 then they do need PSIP. (Page 25)

                              This is the STB they use. It combines reception of normal ATSC signals with A/70 conditional access support. And yes, the box (this is probably the recent box) supports MPEG-4.

                              ...Are A/70 and A/72 (MPEG-4) even approved by the FCC for use in the US?
                              Follow En Frecuencia on Medium and Twitter @EnFrecuencia, your Mexican broadcasting blog.

                              The Reference Section features the HD Radio map, list of Article 90 reserved band clears, and more.

                              Comment

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