Research Firm, Broadcasters Scrap Over DTV ‘Gap’

Conflicting views on a study released by Centris

If market research firm Centris is right, there are major DTV coverage gaps for millions of homes that will rely on over-the-air signals. Not everyone agrees with the study’s results, however. The Association for Maximum Service Television (MSTV) says Centris is incorrect in their findings.

According to the

widely released study

of small and medium sized roof-mounted antennas, there was little continuous DTV signal coverage beyond a 35 mile radius from the station, rather than the 60-70 mile service contour identified by the FCC.

Unless broadcasters' signal coverage is improved, or viewers get a sufficiently sensitive roof-top antenna, Centris argues, there will be "serious gaps" in DTV signal coverage for which those antennas may be an option. Centris advises that "signing up for a cable, satellite or telecom video provider is the only guarantee that their TV sets will continue to work."

Hold the phone, said MSTV, which vetted the study and concluded that it was not based on real world signal strength measurements and did not provide a "realistic assessment" of DTV coverage. "Centris uses only “small” and “medium” omnidirectional outdoor antennas that [the Consumer Electronics Association] recommends for homes located within 20 - 30 miles of a TV tower. Centris then makes the leap that because these “small” and “medium” antennas may not work for areas outside of 30 miles, or in some terrain-shielded areas, DTV service is not available. This is simply wrong!"

"[H]omes in areas beyond 30 miles from a broadcast tower may need larger, perhaps amplified, antennas. This may also be true in terrain-challenged areas within 30 miles of a tower. In no way does this mean DTV service is not unavailable."

"They don't really understand the analysis we did," said Barry Goodstadt, senior VP for Centris.

Far from overstating the case, Goodstadt argues that the survey was conservative and that the problem was likely even bigger than the study suggested. "We assumed that, at a minimum, everyone had a small or medium omnidirectional outdoor antenna when our stats show that only 10% of households have such an antenna. Therefore, the coverage data we got back suggested they were going to get even better coverage than they are likely to get."