Isaac Bennetch on 9 May 2009 06:47:16 -0700

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Re: [PLUG] -- Mostly-OT -- Mythbuntu & Comcast channels?


On Sat, May 9, 2009 at 3:39 AM, JP Vossen <> wrote:
> I just noticed that between 2009-04-08 and 15, 2-3 of my PBS stations
> went away.  According to the Comcast channel lineup I just looked at,
> "14 WLVT", "20 WYBE" and "23 WNJT" are now digital.  I had been assuming
> that we would not be affected by the cut-over since we are using Comcast
> and not an OTA antenna.

Yeah, apparently Comcast is cutting back on their analog service,
either to push people towards digital or to save bandwidth. This
really has nothing to do with the June 12th cutoff (actually, the
opposite; cable operators are required to keep local broadcasts
available as analog systems until at least 2012, but this is
irrelevant because the stations you've mentioned aren't really local
to you). You should continue to get WHYY-TV (12, or wherever else
Comcast places it on the dial) since that's the local PBS station.

> Background: We're in Collegeville (so Comcast "Pottstown" service), and
> have the $20/mo limited basic plan, since all we ever use are a few of
> the networks, and some of the PBSs.  I have a Hauppauge WinTV-PVR-500MCE
> dual *analog* tuner PCI card, but it has an internal splitter so only 1
> incoming Coax (thus I can't add an or other source).

In this case, things should continue to work quite well for you for a
few more years (barring a change of heart in the FCC), provided you
can deal with losing the "non-local" stations you're used to watching.
Comcast, no doubt, is eager to ditch all analog signals as it makes
their system easier (for a whole host of reasons including dealing
with signal leaks, high-band line loss/signal attenuation, having to
maintain a whole separate infrastructure, and being able to charge
more for digital service).

> All the PBSs except "12 WHYY" went away, and according to their site,
> "WHYY will continue to broadcast both an analog and a digital television
> signal until June 12 [2009]." (

I think I answered this before; the over-the-air cuttoff has nothing
to do with the way most cable service works. Nice of them to make all
these changes at the same time, though, confusing pretty much

> I don't have any HD hardware at all, and could not possibly care less
> about it.  I am assuming that any kind of converter box won't play nice
> with my tuner card and MythTV.  Correct?

That depends on some technical details I can't help you out with plus
how much effort you want to put in to it. All the Comcast digital
set-top-boxes that I've seen will put out an analog signal that your
Hauppauge would be able to record; you would just leave the Hauppauge
tuned to channel 3 or 4 forever and have to change channels on the
set-top-box. I believe that Myth has some support for this with some
sort of external infrared remote-control-like unit, but don't have one
and don't know the details. You would also be locked in to only
watching/recording one channel at a time; the second tuner becomes
useless. I think, anyway; but it's possible that it would continue to
pass the analog signals that you're already getting...but better to
count on only one tuner of your Hauppauge working.

> I just want the networks and at least a PBS or two to work after June
> 12.

As long as that's "a PBS" and not "or two" you should be fine.

> I can buy new digital tuner H/W if needed (the server is a
> 1u box with 2 PCI slots, 1 open), but I'd prefer not to pay Comcast any
> more/mo, and I really don't want to switch my TVs yet either.

Probably buying a new hardware tuner is only helpful if you also
convert your service to digital, which may require set-top boxes for
all the TVs in your house. If you are willing to pay for the digital
service, you could check with them whether they'll continue to deliver
the analog signals you're getting now or if digital service is only
digital. You could get lucky and, with the purchase of a digital
hardware card, get a four-input SuperTivo (two analog and two
digital)! A digital hardware tuner shouldn't require a set-top-box.

By the way, I have no idea how your setup would be affected by the
digital copyright flags that are sometimes set in digital
transmissions. There are flags that are supposed to prevent recording,
etc, but whether they are set, transmitted to you, understood by your
tuner, or adhered to by your software are beyond my working knowledge;
but worth a bit of homework if you think about going all-digital. For
that matter, Comcast may encrypt some of the digital channels (IIRC,
which is a stretch, they are required to pass the local broadcast
channels in the clear, but are able to encrypt the rest. Determining
whether that's still true and whether they actually do that on your
specific system is left as an exercise for the reader).

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