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Old April 4th, 2008, 05:19 AM   #1
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Anyone Have Trouble Tuning DTV on Windows Media Center?

If you use a Windows Media Center computer to watch digital channels on OTA stations, are any of them in the channel lineup, but can't be received? I had this problem with one local DTV station, because the Zap 2it program guide they use, had the wrong physical or transmitting channel listed for it. You can't actually see the transmitting channel number anywhere within the Media Center pages. But, there is a fix for it, that is on the link I've included. I used it and it works just as described. Supposedly, the change you make in your C/Programs and Settings will be sustained through future downloads of new guide listings. It's written for Windows XP, so if you're not experienced in navigating these documents on a Vista computer, you may have to hunt around a bit, before you find the right sequence of steps to locate the electronic program guide in them. You need to activate your hidden files first. The incorrect physical channel listing must be removed in the document, before you can go to the WMC and add the missing channel back with the correct channel number. There's always the possibility that some part of the codes that accompany the broadcast signal may not be exactly right and the problem is not because of a wrong channel listing. The WMC tuners seem to be more sensitive to errors in the codes than other types and the local broadcast engineers would have to correct this problem.

It seems that the provider of the WMC program guide has let quite a few errors in the channel listings go uncorrected. When the big shift to all-digital TV takes place next year, there will be quite a few stations changing their DTV channels. Some of them will use their current analog channel for it.

My thanks go to the researcher and writer of this excellent and useful article:

http://thenears.wordpress.com/2006/0...issues-in-mce/
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Old April 14th, 2008, 01:14 PM   #2
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That's a pretty detailed writeup; thanks for sharing it.

Thankfully, I haven't experienced that kind of reception issue with Windows Media Center. In the past I ran Windows XP Media Center 2005, and now Windows Vista. The tuner card I'm using is an ATI TV Wonder 650.

The only issues I've run into is the setup guide listing extraneous channels that apparently were too far away (e.g., both our local FOX affiliate and another farther away). With DTV, signal reception doesn't degrade gracefully, so either you get the signal or you don't.

Plus, the guide service doesn't list subchannels, only the main channel.

That's it apart from occasional antenna/bad weather reception issues. Actually, I prefer the Windows Media Center method of pulling down a list of stations instead of scanning for them. It seems every time I've tried the channel scanning method with third-party media center apps, pretty much all they come up with is one channel.
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Old April 14th, 2008, 06:44 PM   #3
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Adding Sub-channels on WMC

I've been able to add all the local sub-channels, except one, to my WMC TV guide, by going to the Settings page, then to TV and then to Guide and using the Add Missing Channels feature. You have to know the actual physical channel to do this, which isn't shown on the WMC guide. One sub-channel won't come in and I suspect it's one that has some codes added to its signal that aren't exactly what the WMC tuner requires. On my little digital TV converter boxes, this sub-schannel comes in and they probably aren't as precise in the codes they require or they may be ignoring some sections of the transmitter's codes.

To follow the instructions given on that page by The Nears, for deleting incorrect channel listings in your computer's documents, you need to take one different step at the beginning, for the Vista OS. After you have enabled your hidden files to be shown, click on Drive C and then on Program Data, before you go to Microsoft, then eHome, EPG, prefs and finally, atscchannels.xml.
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Old April 15th, 2008, 02:17 PM   #4
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I should have mentioned that I did manually add the subchannels. It's just that a user has to know they are available to begin with, otherwise they would miss out on them. Plus, there's no guide data for subchannels. Though you may be aware that there is a hack available to pull in the subchannel guide data, but apparently the hack doesn't always "stick." I haven't been brave enough to try it yet; I've got a working setup and I'm not sure I want to mess with it.

ATSC has been with us for over a decade now. I really would have liked more robust support for ATSC in Vista's Media Center, especially considering that analog NTSC broadcasting is to cease in 2009 (save low-power stations).

At least in Vista's Media Center you aren't required to set up an analog tuner to get the guide data.

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Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald View Post
To follow the instructions given on that page by The Nears, for deleting incorrect channel listings in your computer's documents, you need to take one different step at the beginning, for the Vista OS. After you have enabled your hidden files to be shown, click on Drive C and then on Program Data, before you go to Microsoft, then eHome, EPG, prefs and finally, atscchannels.xml.
Thanks!
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Old April 15th, 2008, 09:07 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Christopher Lefchik View Post
I should have mentioned that I did manually add the subchannels. It's just that a user has to know they are available to begin with, otherwise they would miss out on them. Plus, there's no guide data for subchannels.
I think that the TV stations need to take a more active role in making the public aware of their digital channels. They rarely mention anything about the existence of sub-channels. The PBS stations seem to be ahead of the others in using the sub-channels and having good and different programs on them. In fact, I think that PBS has already outdone the commercial networks and the digital changeover will increase their well-earned advantage. I'm sure that when the analog channels disappear, that more attention will be paid to the DTV broadcast availability. Our local newspaper, that has an otherwise excellent weekly TV guide, has so far, completely ignored the DTV stations in its scheduling. Although only PBS has separate programming on its DTV channels, I'd think they would at least list all those channels, to make people aware of them.
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Old April 18th, 2008, 10:53 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald View Post
I think that the TV stations need to take a more active role in making the public aware of their digital channels. They rarely mention anything about the existence of sub-channels.
True. They probably just assume people will discover them when their DTV tuner scans channels.

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Originally Posted by J. Stephen McDonald View Post
The PBS stations seem to be ahead of the others in using the sub-channels and having good and different programs on them. In fact, I think that PBS has already outdone the commercial networks and the digital changeover will increase their well-earned advantage.
Yes, PBS does seem to be taking the most advantage of subchannels. The only problem with this, at least with our PBS station with one HD channel and two SD subchannels, is that this has resulted in a visibly compromised HD picture on the main channel. Ken Burns' documentaries come out looking fine for the most part, but more conventional programming can have some pretty noticeable compression artifacts at times. This is something I haven't seen on the other three network stations in our area that have an HD channel and one subchannel.
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