By Ken Foote | CBSDFW.COM

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My wife and I are fans of the former CBS comedy/drama series Diagnosis: Murder (now on Hallmark Channel) starring Dick Van Dyke, about a doctor who spends more time solving murders than he does healing patients. Along with his staff and a police detective (played by his real life son Barry Van Dyke), they always saved the day by solving the crime. I wish solving our viewer’s reception issues were that easy but not so in the real world!

Years ago when TV was in analog and there were only five TV guides around, it was so simple. In 1984, cable TV coverage in the DFW area was less than 50%. DISH Network was founded in 1980 but had only limited coverage here. DirecTV started in 1990 with AT&T uVerse and Verizon FiOS sometime after the turn of the century. So most people watched over the air with a signal that they could receive unless they were too far and they would see a “faded” picture. Today, cable/satellite coverage exceeds 80% with about 18% of the area watching over the air only. In today’s digital world, a TV signal and picture is either there….or not! There are over 15 guides to make sure listings are correct as well as the PSIP information (Program and System Information Protocol), the little box that drops down when you change a channel on cable/satellite, or the electronic program guide for over the air viewers.

Today, when we get a call or email from a viewer about reception problems, we ask the following questions:

1. How do you get your TV service? The answer to that questions clears up about 50% of the issue.

2. Are you watching on a digital HD set or an older analog set? Makes a difference!

3. If over the air, where do you live and where is your antenna located? Is it pointed toward Cedar Hill? Is it in your attic or outside?

4. If on cable/satellite, are all wires plugged in properly?

5. If the picture is cropped off, are you watching on an HD channel or an SD channel that uses a down converted signal? Makes a difference.

I’m not an engineer by training but I’ve gotten pretty good about trouble shooting people’s TV reception issues. But our Engineering Department is the best. If I can’t answer, they can. For example, if you live very close to a TV transmitter site, you don’t need a top of the line antenna because the signal is so strong. If you live 60-80 miles as the crow flies from our antenna and you are trying to pick it up over the air, that’s a different issue all together. If you live in a wooded area with trees that have leaves, that can affect reception.

If you are having reception issues of any kind, email or call us. Don’t get frustrated. Call us. And tell ‘em Ken Foote sent ya!

See you next time!