FastPipe Media » HDTV in Oklahoma

More is Less on OETA

OETA has begun sending out canned responses to people who have contacted them about their new lack of HD programming. I just want to address a couple of points contained in the canned message…

True, this plan means we will be broadcasting fewer HD pictures, but there will be far more programming. We will be serving more of Oklahoma with this wider variety of programming.

The PBS HD channel, for all its repeat programming, was unique — something you couldn’t get via satellite or any other service — and provided much of the incentive for a lot of people to buy HD over the air tuners. I have a friend who told me today that because of this change, he’ll just order Dish Network HD service because he can at least get Discovery HD Theater there; he had planned to put up an antenna and enjoy the fruits of the digital transition for a while before committing to a bigger HD programming package.

So now, instead of getting a great Bruce Springsteen concert on Great Performances in glorious HD and Dolby Digital 5.1, I’m going to get standard definition reruns of The Lawrence Welk Show on the OETA SD channel. Is that guy even still alive? No, he’s been dead for more than 14 years and I’m pretty sure most of the people who watched that show died long before that.

PBS You and PBS Kids have been failures in the marketplace. This year, both DirecTV and Dish Network dropped those channels in favor of alternatives. In fact, I didn’t discover until today that I can’t get either of those channels on my Dish Network service.

Wow, I guess I should have written OETA months ago demanding that they dump all the great PBS HD programming and put on two channels that I didn’t know had been cancelled from my main TV programming provider. Oh wait, OETA isn’t even showing PBS You; they have a card up that says, “Coming soon…” just like the card for OETA Oklahoma. Great music though…

Cox Communications is impressed by OETA’s efforts to broadcast the wide variety of programming. They expressed a desire to add all of our digital channels to their Digital Cable service…. Since Cox Communications isn’t limited by over-the-air bandwidth, they will also be able to receive the PBS HD loop that we were broadcasting.

I’m sure Cox is impressed now that they have exclusive access to PBS HD programming to go along with their other five HD channels. Some of us live in markets where Cox abandoned us when they sold out to Suddenlink Wow, maybe they’ll run fiber from Oklahoma City to Stillwater so I can get PBS HD. No, PBS HD programming isn’t going to be available outside of Oklahoma City or Tulsa, which means it will be available in fewer areas, not more. Some of us don’t live anywhere near a cable connection and so we’re not going to get any of that great PBS HD programming that was populating our TVs just a week ago through free over the air signals.

When OETA announced that Cox would be carrying the PBS HD feed 24 hours a day a few months ago, those of us getting the OTA feed were disappointed but understanding when OETA claimed they couldn’t afford to broadcast past midnight. Now that they’re broadcasting PBS Kids 24 hours a day over the air does that mean it’s cheaper to broadcast four SD channels than one HD channel over the air 24 hours a day?

No, it just means that the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority’s board of directors or the people they hired are clueless. This is proven by this statement on OETA’s website: “OETA also leads the way in statewide digital television with four digital, high definition channels located in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Eufaula and Cheyenne.” Now that it’s multicasting four standard definition channels OETA has zero “high definition” channels.

If you’re unhappy with the recent choices OETA management has made, you should contact its underwriters, many of whom you already do business with, and express your feelings about this to them. Don’t ask them to do anything other than express your wishes to their contacts at OETA; people with big checkbooks tend to get listened to more than those of us making $50 annual donations.

With four SD channels, there is no way they’re going to turn them off to carry primetime PBS HD programming which means this is the end of an era. OETA has decided that offering more channels means more, but what this decision really means is less for Oklahomans. PBS has been running a great ad campaign with the slogan “Be More…” as the tag line; I guess OETA’s version of this is “Be Less…”

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  1. Bobarino
    Posted August 23, 2006 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    I for one will contact these underwriters and express my opinion.

    The current management at OETA is obviously clueless, isolated, and out of touch.

    I have already expressed to them that I am NOT a subscriber to Cox cable services so I will not be able to view PBS-HD programming for the most part. Instead I will rely on DiscoveryHD and National GeographicHD from my satellite provider.

    2 years or more waiting on them to complete their “master control center” and for what? Lawrence Welk reruns in B&W from the 60s and childrens programming.

  2. mdeatherage
    Posted August 23, 2006 at 10:42 pm | Permalink

    Oh, you don’t give OETA enough credit. Those aren’t just Lawrence Welk reruns – OETA produces new Lawrence Welk shows so they have enough to air.

    Then again, I’ve made my feelings on OETA well known, here and here, along with giving OETA a little bit of credit here.

    It’s distressing, but not surprising, that satellite broadcasters like DISH and DTV can’t get the PBS HD feed because “that would usurp the local station,” and yet OETA will let Cox have it while refusing to broadcast it for free. That feed has programs that might challenge someone’s opinion, and OETA definitely doesn’t want any of that on the free public airwaves.

  3. mzokc
    Posted August 24, 2006 at 12:39 am | Permalink

    I realize everyone’s disappointment in losing OTA PBS-HD, however the negative comments about The Lawrence Welk Show are uncalled for. The entire OETA schedule is now on digital, no reason to single out one show out of the entire schedule, especially a show that OETA produces and distributes nationwide.

    One comment about quality of the SD OTA digital channel. Careful comparison between DirecTV 13, COX 14 and OTA digital gives the quality edge to OTA digital. Less artifacts and noise are making it superior to watch compared to other OETA choices.

    For those outside the COX area, what about purchasing equipment to pick up PBS-HD directly from satellite SES Americom Americom-3 – Ku-Band – 87 degrees West longitude on 21(H)?

    Mark Z

  4. doublej
    Posted August 24, 2006 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    One I am not going to spend 700.00 to get an fta hd receiver. Or a couple of hundred on a standard dvb receiver and dish. And if that feed is 4:2:2 you can’t see it with a standard receiver only with a pc or the expensive Quali receiver.

    People say that PBS hd was looping and repetetive, but what is oeta okla and oeta you going to be. They will just be replaying the same thing over and over probably in four hour or six hour loops.

    I think they would have been better off leaving the hd feed up and putting a mirror of the analog on 1 subchannel. I usualluy watched PBS HD every day and didn’t notice that much repetiveness, but I doubt I will watch oeta more than once or twice a week for This Old House and History Detectives.

  5. MWB
    Posted August 24, 2006 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Yeah, leave Lawrence Welk alone, everybody.

    Lawrence Welk is the reason I bought my HDTV. The bubbles look wunnerful, and the Ah-ones and ah-twos have never sounded so good. It might be a fifty-year old show, but it looks and sounds like it was shot just yesterday. This is much better to watch than any of this so-called “high definition” programming.

    Thanks, OETA!

  6. Posted August 24, 2006 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I singled out The Lawrence Welk Show because, IMHO, it has no redeeming educational, social or cultural value, and it is distributed nationally by OETA. In other words, that show is not fulfilling OETA’s mission “to deliver essential educational and public television programs and value-added services to enrich the quality of life for all Oklahoma citizens and children.”

    If The Lawrence Welk Show is profitable, why aren’t those profits being funneled into providing more HD programming such as upgrading the sets of the Oklahoma News Hour to provide it in HD. With limited resources, there are so many other things they could be doing to fulfill their mission, but producing a TV show featuring a guy who died 14 years ago isn’t one of them. Of course, that’s just my opinion.

    Regarding picture quality, every station that has gone digital in the last couple of years has upgraded their picture quality. The satellite companies are going to compress the pictures beyond recognition when uplinking them and the cable companies are beginning to do the same. Picture quality was really improved when they were showing “HD pictures.”

    Finally, if Cox is so exciting about these new digital offerings, why aren’t they exclusively carrying PBS You, PBS Kids and OETA-Oklahoma while OETA-HD is exclusively offered over the air? My point about all of this is that, when given the opportunity to lead in the marketplace, OETA’s management fails miserably.

  7. mzokc
    Posted August 26, 2006 at 12:15 am | Permalink

    A Google search of (pbs ratings welk) returns news about LW as one of the most successful national PBS programs and also why one person doesn’t contribute to OETA!

    OETA is not alone in dropping PBS-HD. The web is filled with PBS multicast news (Spanish is coming!) Here is a small sample:

    Oh well, OTA PBS-HD was a nice preview of what you will not have.

  8. Posted August 26, 2006 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I have modified our listings (in the far right column at the bottom) which indicated that PBS was offering HD programming and OETA was not multicasting to reflect the true state of affairs. I also added a note so that new users don’t get confused thinking that PBS HD programming is available in Oklahoma; as of a week ago, it’s not. If you think the new information regarding OETA is inaccurate, let me know and I’ll modify it if I agree.

    I have also modified my listings in my Dish 6000 satellite receiver to remove OETA from my HD favorites list. Not that they care, but it just means I won’t watch OETA until I can receive their HD programming.

  9. trueview
    Posted August 26, 2006 at 8:53 pm | Permalink

    When LW first came on I questioned what it had to do with educational programing and even more so now. I guess some of you have been more able to get a response than I. But then in my e-mail I asked that PBS HD be made available on Directv, Dish and cable whether the local stations like it or not.
    It seems self defeating to offer a program “service” that those who have the receivers to watch it simply do not want. And children’s programing 24 hrs daily? Wow. But then there is the cartoon channel et all 24 hours; at least they have “adult swim.” Every now and then OETA, like other broadcasters, must renew their license: [can you say “protest renewal”? I KNEW you could!].
    National Georgraphic programing has been disappointing in some aspects; I would like to see more “georgraphy” and Nature and a lot less whispering to dogs, ghosts and UFOs. well that is my whiny.

  10. Bobarino
    Posted August 27, 2006 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Since I subscribe to satellite services I will no longer be able to watch
    HD shows like Austin City Limits, The Piano Guy, Smart Travels with Rudy Maxa
    at all.
    I don’t have children.
    There is really no reason at all for someone in my situation to even tune
    OETA in anymore.

  11. MWB
    Posted August 27, 2006 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

    It may be just a matter of academics, but I don’t think kids’ programming is on the Kids subchannel 24/7; I flipped through around midnight last night and Tavis Smiley was on.

  12. doublej
    Posted August 27, 2006 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    Yeah about 10pm last night as I scanned thru there was something else on the kids channel. I will keep 11.1 in the guide for this old house and history detectives but otherwise I have no use for oeta now.

  13. Posted August 27, 2006 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    Supposedly, OETA repeats the PBS primetime lineup on 13-4 after 10 p.m., but that raises a whole slew of other points.

    PBS Kids is on from about 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. OETA-SD shows kids programming from about 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. So, for the entire work day there is duplicative kids programming on two channels from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. instead of the great HD programming that was on during that time, much of which — Boobah, It’s a Big, Big World, The Piano Guy, etc. — was geared toward kids.

    And that doesn’t count PBS staples like Nova, History Detectives, Nature, etc. that have immense educational value to older kids which was shown many times in HD per week during the day. OETA might argue that those shows are still on, but in reality they’re not because they’re not in High Definition, which means they lose a lot of their impact and educational value.

    Oh, and even if I wanted to the record the SD shows, the programming guide used for recorders is wrong again. It doesn’t show 13-2, 13-3 or 13-4, probably because there’s absolutely nothing on 13-2 and 13-3. For some reason, when my DVR recorded History Detectives last week, before I removed it from my EyeTV, I got an hour of OETA-You Coming Soon… video. Go figure…

  14. doublej
    Posted August 27, 2006 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

    My guide is no longer correct for any of the channels.

  15. trueview
    Posted August 27, 2006 at 8:44 pm | Permalink

    Well Nature was in the HD format but a few minutes into the next HD program they pulled the plug ~ literally by the looks of the “transition” ~ and tho the mystery program was letterboxed there was no widescreen presentation which I would expect. Maybe they will carry more HD at least once a week for the various shows that made up the loop [but then how would we know without a good guide]. PBS has in a way lost the travel show to other networks. I have seen it on HDNET and EQUATOR HD.
    If PBS would change the loop so that the line up was made up of HD programing that OETA considers for a regular schedule it would help. As it is PBS HD emulates other networks repetition of several shows in a night. Still I would have rather had the HD they cut off after several minutes.

  16. Bobarino
    Posted August 28, 2006 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

    It looks like right now OETA is broadcasting in HD on13-1 ( Great Performances – Ballet ) with childrens programming on 13-2. 13-3 and 13-4 are both

    The HD on 13-1 looks surprisingly good, I just don’t care for ballet so I
    tuned out. Hopefully I will get to see Austin City Limits in HD this week.

  17. Posted August 28, 2006 at 10:17 pm | Permalink

    There’s nothing that says they can’t multicast a second channel, like PBS Kids, but when they have four channels up they essentially won’t have HD.

    Hopefully, HD on the main channel is the plan going forward with one additional SD channel. I do wish that bug were a little more transparent, but I’m not going to complain too much if they’re going to at least have HD during primetime.

    I just don’t understand why, if they’re going to show HD in primetime, they don’t continue showing it overnight. Does it really cost more to broadcast an HD channel than an SD channel? After midnight, they switched back to SD. Confused in Stillwater…

  18. doublej
    Posted August 29, 2006 at 7:24 pm | Permalink

    Looks like Nova is in Hd right now but the audio seems out of sync to me. The picture looks pretty good so far.

  19. Posted August 30, 2006 at 7:22 pm | Permalink

    And to think I almost became their Digital Engineer. As much as I want to move back to OK, I’ll wait until I find a station that’s got it’s act together. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, it’s helped me to understand the mind set of OETA.

  20. mzokc
    Posted September 2, 2006 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    The comment about Nova in HD is interesting. A new OETA schedule shows it as WS.

    HD in SD or true HD? I will have to check the Mbps on EyeTV.

    Mark Z

    (PS: It is interesting to view all 4 feeds of OETA at the same time with EyeTV!)

  21. Bobarino
    Posted September 3, 2006 at 7:55 am | Permalink

    Last night, Sep 2nd, 8pm primetime and OETA features a show
    from 1971 with Doris Day and Perry Como. I’ll bet a lot of veiwers
    tuned in for that.

  22. mzokc
    Posted September 3, 2006 at 7:15 pm | Permalink

    OETA is showing 1920×1080 resolution on NATURE tonight (Sunday 9/3/06.) The Kids channel is running at about 2.25 to 2.5 Mbps on channel 13-2 because OETA shut down the OKLA and YOU channels while NATURE is on the air.

    The 13-1 OTA OETA-HD channel is running at about 14 to 15 Mbps. This would be similar to other PBS channels that run two feeds. Picture looks great for tonight’s “wide screen” programming.

    An OETA@HD logo (where @ is the PBS logo) is shown in the lower right corner. There was a brief switch over just seconds before the program appeared. Enough time for a special OETA-HD announcement before the program began.

    So there you have it. OETA Over The Air HD is operational as they planned. Way to go OETA! Thank you for the HD and the schedule of when these WS and HD programs occur.

  23. Posted September 3, 2006 at 8:10 pm | Permalink

    But there is so little of it. I’ll have to see if History Detectives is carried tomorrow night as it was not a week ago. No, it’s not HD, but looks much better than when they’ve carried it as a letterboxed presentation.

    Plus, the schedule is very screwed up so I can’t rely on recording anything. I tried to record Frontline a few nights ago and ended up with 2GB recording of something completely different.

    Until they have more than an hour of HD every few days, I’m still very unhappy and will not watch any non-HD shows on OETA.


  24. Bobarino
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    I agree with Dennis. 1 hour of HD per night ( especially when I don’t know when or what hour because the guide is always wrong ) doesn’t cut it for me. I am not going to waste my time tuning over to 13-1 every hour to find the one hour they are broadcasting in HD.

    I’ll watch something else!

  25. trueview
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

    I would prefer to see a solid prime time of the wide screen and HD programing rather that 2 day old news and other not-really-eductional programing. I have tried several times to catch the 7:00 slot to see what is on; but I generally plan ahead and if some one IS willing to provide worth while HD and has a dependable schedule I stick with that. PBS adds claim more HD shows as being available than OETA has elected to carry, so I think more could be done. And PBS could carry more of the shows in HD. This seems strange considering PBS apparent pride in the HD. And did I not hear a request for donations to by HD equipment? They best way to get my $$ is to HAVE HD. I think I prefered the PBS loop!

    It has been so long since I took any notice but PBS Kids and PBS & you are not in the DISH guide — have the local stations had them removed? Are they still on DIRECTV? I did not watch them, or I would have noticed. Now I am not even certain that they were on DISH.

  26. trueview
    Posted September 4, 2006 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    Is there a way to edit ones comments? the last entry should have been “to BUY. . .” and the other They best way should have been “the.”

    After checking the PBS OETA schedule I found that while cox is picking up a 24 hour OETA HD channel the other program providers are given the same chance. What will it cost and can we get DISH to do the OETA feed? If we all partition them maybe.

  27. Posted September 4, 2006 at 4:57 pm | Permalink

    If there is an ‘e’ next to the time of your post, try clicking on that to edit your post.

    DirecTV dropped PBS Kids within a few weeks after Dish did so neither of those channels are carried on either small dish satellite provider. You can probably receive them with a big ugly dish for free though.

  28. Bobarino
    Posted September 10, 2006 at 2:32 pm | Permalink

    I just checked the program guide at and they don’t show PBS-HD programming as being available at all. That means no one is getting this programming any more except for the 2 or 3 hours a week that OETA decides to spring it on us without warning.

  29. Posted September 10, 2006 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    I’ve recorded four shows this week on OETA that were in HD on the PBS HD channel, but weren’t shown in HD during primetime on OETA’s 13-01 channel. Eventually, I’m going to give up…

  30. mzokc
    Posted September 17, 2006 at 11:51 pm | Permalink

    No one need guess when OETA will broadcast HD. They have dedicated a single web page showing the OTA HD schedule. Click the following link:

    At the State Fair on Sunday, COX mentioned that the PBS-HD is now operational. (Also: Internet users are suppose to get a speed boost in October at no charge.)

    AT&T will be laying fiber to some homes in OKC hopefully later this year. When I called AT&T, they said my downtown home is in the fiber area. He said the fiber would be run underground (like the existing phone line) to a box outside the house. If you search for stories about their progress in San Antonio, there may be a wait for HD. Should be interesting to watch.

  31. Posted September 18, 2006 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    So, this week OETA has six hours of HD programming. Whoopee! It would solve my issue with them if they just broadcast HD from midnight to 7 a.m., but I guess that would break into Cox’s exclusive window and people might miss the reruns of PBS primetime programming on 13-4. There are plenty of shows, like History Detectives, that are widescreen and not shown up converted on OETA. I don’t understand why they can only carry six hours a week of programming.

    I’m about to start a letter writing campaign to our state representatives about what a waste of resources OETA is doing right now. They probably won’t listen, but it is an election year.

  32. mzokc
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

    It appears they only broadcast HD when there is an exact match with the live PBS-HD feed and their normal prime-time schedule.

    Problem report: Great Performances from the Vienna State Opera had missing center audio on 13-1. You could hear the commentator only if you switched to analog OETA on 13. Singing voices were very soft if dead center. They needed to pass the 5.1 digital audio. Frustrating, but at least they didn’t abandon the HD feed and force everyone to watch in standard definition.

  33. jmorales22
    Posted April 12, 2007 at 9:09 pm | Permalink

    For those who use Cox for internet, just an fyi: Cox sends the OETA HD signal, which is basically the same thing as the old feed from the national pbs hd channel, unencrypted over QAM. So if you don’t subscribe to cable but have cox internet, you can get the channel as long as you have a device that can decode QAM modulation, such as the Samsung dtb-h260f.

    The channel is also out there unencrypted on DVB if you get a big dish, but this is not practical for most people.


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