Hawaii DTV Corner: Answers to your local 'Big Switch' questions

Miles Miyahara
Miles Miyahara

Answers to your Hawaii-specific digital television questions from KHNL and K5 engineer Miles Miyahara. Dont' see the answer to your question? Email Miles directly at mmiyahara@khnl.com

Q: I used to get KHNL and/or K5 on analog clearly but not anymore since the DTV switchover.  Why?

A: The KHNL analog tower is located at the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki and its signal emanated in a circular pattern at a much higher power than the current DTV transmitter.  The KFVE analog transmitter, located on Makakilo Ridge, also emanated its signal out in a circular pattern at a higher power.  The DTV transmitters for KHNL and KFVE are located on the lower end of Makakilo Ridge and emanate from a single panel antenna that has a more directional pattern and its signal contour reaches mostly in the Honolulu area and operates at a lower power output level but still meets all FCC requirements.

Q: What are KHNL and KFVE's actual digital channels?

A: KHNL is digital channel 35 which may show up as Ch. 13.1 on your DTV converter box, KFVE is digital channel 23 which may show up as Ch. 5.1.

Q: Since both DTV transmitters are located in the same place, what areas on Oahu don't get either signal too well?

A: As a general rule, if you cannot see Makakilo Ridge line-of-sight (the southern end of the Waianae mountain range), then that may interfere with your reception of our DTV signals.  Currently, viewers north of Waipio-Gentry (Mililani, Wahiawa, and beyond), on the North Shore, and on the Windward side will not receive our DTV signals.

Q: What about Maui?

A: Because the KHNL DTV transmitter on Maui has moved from Haleakala to Ulupalakua (elevation apx. 4,000 ft.), Ch. 13.1 (digital channel 16) is not received in areas such as Haiku, Kaanapali, Napili, and Kapalua and to the east such as Hana and to the far west such as Lahaina.  KFVE can still be received on Ch. 27 analog for all viewers who received it before the January 15th switchover.  It has not moved from Haleakala nor has it gone digital since it is a translator and not a transmitter.

Q: What about the Big Island?

A: The KHNL DTV transmitter is located on top of the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel.  For KHNL DT (digital channel 22 which will now appear as Ch. 13.1 on your DTV box), areas along the Hamakua Coast such as Laupahoehoe, other areas such as Volcano and Waimea, and in the south such as Pahala and Naaelehu will not get our signal.  For those who could tune into KFVE on Ch. 45 analog before the Jan. 15th switchover date may still do so since it has not gone digital.  It is a translator, not a transmitter, and is still an analog signal.

Q: Why couldn't you keep the KHNL DTV transmitter in Waikiki where the analog transmitter was located?

A: In the late '80's, the City and County of Honolulu had placed a moratorium on any new TV antennas being installed within the city limits so it was necessary for us to install our DTV antenna on Makakilo Ridge.  In fact, that is the reason why the KFVE analog tower was erected on that same mountain ridge twenty years ago.

Q: What else can I do in order to try and catch over-the-air digital TV signals from KHNL and KFVE?

A: If you are using an indoor antenna, a VHF/UHF combination type is recommended since many of the digital channels are in the UHF range (Channels 14 thru 69).  You should attempt to place the indoor antenna in different areas within the room where your TV is located and even using a short RG-6 coaxial cable extension with a female-to-female F-connector (both available at electronic stores such as Radio Shack) so that you are not limited by the length of coaxial cable that came with your antenna.  Sometimes putting your antenna up higher and near a window rather than against a wall may allow you to catch more digital channels.  Using a roof antenna may allow you to catch more digital signals but, again, depending on where you live, it may or may not work any better than your indoor antenna since line-of-sight is critical.  Be prepared to return your roof antenna from where it was purchased.

Q: Instead of using my old TV with a DTV converter box, if I buy a new flat-screen, digital TV will I be able to receive more digital channels over the air?

A: No, the digital channels that you are able to receive are determined by where you live, whether you have line-of-sight with or proximity to a particular station's DTV transmitter site, and the type of antenna that you use.  Whether you have an old analog TV set with a DTV converter box hooked up to it or a new flat-screen digital TV, the DTV channels you receive over-the-air will be the same.

Q: What changes are you going to implement in order to reach more viewers with your over-the-air digital TV signal on Oahu?

A: Although we do not have an exact timetable yet, we will be moving our DTV antennas to our KFVE analog tower site which is at a higher elevation than the current DTV site.  This will hopefully allow us to reach more viewers from a higher vantage point.

Q: What are my final options if I've tried absolutely everything to get your over-the-air digital TV signal?

A: If, after we move our DTV transmitters to a higher elevation, you still do not get either of our stations, then subscribing toward a paid service is the only option left. Oceanic has a basic affordable plan that will allow you to watch just the local stations only. For more information, call Oceanic Time Warner Cable at 808-643-2100. For viewers who cannot get Oceanic Cable service because they live in remote areas on Maui and the Big Island, Dish Network also offers an affordable "local-stations-only" package.

Q: Why can't I get KHNL or KFVE's high definition signal from Dish Network or DirectTV?

A: We have made every effort to encourage both Dish Network and DirectTV to take our HD feed.  If you are a Dish Network or Direct TV customer, you should call customer service to let them know of your dissatisfaction with your HD service in order to expedite a resolution to this unfortunate situation.

Q: As a Dish Network or DirectTV customer, I see this occasional "pink screen" pop up during my favorite show on KHNL or KFVE and it's irritating to watch.  What is causing that?

A:  Dish Network and DirectTV receive our over-the-air DTV signal in the downtown area.  Because of equipment problems within their downtown facility that causes a momentary loss of our DTV signals, a "pink screen" appears on your TV at home.  Again, you should call your customer service phone number to let them know of your dissatisfaction with your service in order to expedite a resolution to another unfortunate situation.