TV reception problems in Apollo Bay | ACMA

Interference

10 March, 2015 10:34 AM

Interference

TV reception problems in Apollo Bay

By Peter Watts

Many television viewers in Apollo Bay, Skenes Creek and surrounding areas have recently reported reception difficulties. These townships are located in the coverage area of the Apollo Bay transmission site from Marengo.

What’s causing my poor reception?

The Apollo Bay area has some complex reception issues. The ACMA has identified three main causes:

1. Receiver overload caused by the rollout of mobile 4G broadband networks

Reception problems can occur when masthead or distribution amplifiers (commonly known as ‘signal boosters’) pick up signals from frequencies outside of those designated for TV broadcasting—such as those former TV frequencies now assigned to mobile broadband services. If you’re affected by receiver overload, most likely all your services will be impacted. Your immediate neighbours may also be affected if they have a signal booster.

2. Ducting interference from King Island affecting reception of services from the Apollo Bay transmission site

On occasion, and during specific weather conditions, signals from a distant King Island broadcast site can transmit further than normal. Known as ‘ducting’, this can cause interference to local broadcast services in Apollo Bay operating on the same frequencies.

Ducting is seasonal in nature—it mainly occurs during the warmer months and in particular during sunrise and sunset. If you’re affected by ducting, you’ll most likely suffer from intermittent pixilation or ‘no signal’ to all services except Prime7 (which are on different frequencies to those used by King Island services). Households in elevated positions with a clear aspect in a southerly direction towards King Island are more prone to ducting.

3. Input feed arrangements to the Apollo Bay site

The Apollo Bay transmission site re-broadcasts signals from the Ballarat site that are relayed through the Tanybryn In-Band-Link site. This is a long link and susceptible to signal variations. Broadcasters have been monitoring this link and they have observed signal dropouts that are likely to cause television disruptions including pixilation or ‘no signal’ to all services except ABC. All viewers watching Apollo Bay services are affected by this intermittent pixilation. ABC services are not affected as they are fed via satellite to the Apollo Bay site.

Which channels are affected? 

 

Channel
✘ =  affected  ✔ = not affected

ABC    

SBS 

Prime7 

WIN 

Southern Cross Ten

Receiver overload caused by mobile broadband services

Ducting interference

Link fade (input feed issue)

How can I improve my reception?

Depending on what’s causing your reception problems, there’s a range of possible solutions.

1. Reception affected by mobile 4G broadband services

The best option is to contact a local antenna expert who will be able to advise if you:

  • have the most appropriate antenna system installed
  • should remove your signal booster
  • should install a 4G filter at the input to the existing masthead amplifier or replacing the antenna or masthead amplifier with one that has a 4G filter built in. A 4G filter works by blocking signals from former UHF television channels 52–69 (now used for mobile 4G broadband services) while still allowing signals from the other channels to be received.

Where TV signals are weak, a high-gain antenna located up to 10 metres above ground level may be a better option than a signal booster to improve television reception. In many areas, signal boosters—previously needed to boost signal strength—are no longer necessary. A faulty signal booster can actually cause interference to other services, including neighbourhood TV reception.

2. Reception affected by ducting

If you’re experiencing intermittent reception problems with all your services—except Prime7—you’re likely to be affected by ducting. An antenna installer may be able to reduce the occurrence of ducting by carefully selecting and locating your antenna. However, some areas may continue to experience interference caused by ducting. In these places, the Viewer Access Satellite Television (VAST) service is your best option. The ACMA is working with broadcasters to minimise the impact of ducting. Any possible changes will need to be carefully considered and will take time to implement.

3. Reception affected by input feed issues

Unfortunately, if your reception is affected by unreliable input feed issues, it can’t be improved by upgrading your antenna or installing a 4G filter. ABC services aren’t affected as their transmitted signal is fed via a satellite feed that isn’t as susceptible to input feed issues. In these places, the VAST service is an alternative option. Broadcasters have made some improvements with this link and are expected to continue to make gradual incremental improvements.

Are there any other reasons for my poor reception?

Viewers with inadequate antenna installations are more susceptible to any minor signal variations or other reception difficulties. The ACMA recently conducted an antenna survey in Apollo Bay and identified that many households have inadequate antenna systems including legacy, poorly maintained, broken or incorrectly installed antennas. While issues such as ducting, receiver overload or input feed to the transmission site are causing reception problems in Apollo Bay, viewers with an inadequate antenna system are more likely to experience reception problems.

We recommend that you contact a local antenna installer who can review your antenna set-up to make sure:

  • It’s not poorly maintained, broken or incorrectly installed. The good news is that these problems can often be easily fixed, which may help to improve your reception straight away
  • You’re not experiencing weak signal coverage. If you live outside the planned coverage area of the services you’re trying to receive, you’ll often have a very weak signal. The best option in this case may be to apply for the VAST service.

Should I be watching Melbourne services?

Melbourne services aren’t intended to provide coverage to the Apollo Bay area—they aren’t protected from interference or fading and may be unreliable. However, depending on their location, some households can receive a watchable signal from some Melbourne stations.