What to expect from locals picture quality?


SatelliteGuys Family
Original poster
Oct 1, 2003
Hazel Green, WI
We subs here in Southwest Wisconsin are anxiously waiting for the Madison locals. From what I've been told this is supposed to happen on November 6. It wouldn't surprise me if it was delayed again like everything else has.

Lately, I've been reading a lot about poor locals picture quality and I'm curious if that's what is happening to everyone that is getting locals. Does Dish eventually get it right? Are they really all that bad? Do they at least come in as good as cable? Maybe I'm not all that anxious to sign on if they don't come in good. Any words of wisdom here? :|
All other things being equal, it primarily depends on the amount of signal compression cranked in by Dish at any given time. For Atlanta locals, on a 5-point scale, they range from 4.5 down to 2.0

Doing a split-screen side-by-side comparison of Dish and cable on my widescreen RPTV, the local Adelphia franchise cranks out PQ on certain area network affiliates that is noticeably better than the locals via dish during the times they have a highly compressed signal. Of course, my cable's PQ can vary widely too, from excellent to virtually unwatchable on some channels.

I would expect that Dish PQ on your upcoming Madison locals will start out 'good' and improve over time as more bandwidth capacity is brought online.

Congrats on getting your locals! I know it has been a looong wait.
Sorry about the above anonymous "Guest" post. The auto-log-in doesn't always trigger for me when I come to the site.

Since DISH still picks up a lot of the locals using OTA antennas the picture quality varies quite a bit. A BIG problem is that DISH relies on Sprint to maintain their POPs (point of presence where the local OTA antennas and tranmission equipment is located). I don't know about other cities, but in Cincinnati Sprint does a piss-poor job keeping the channels looking and sounding like they should. Since my locals have been up I have had to e-mail DISH at least 20 times about problems on one or more of my locals. The address to send your complaints to is DishQuality@Echostar.com. The people that get that mail do a good job of getting the Sprint people to fix the problem but quite often the "fix" doesn't last long. Right now, out of the seven locals that DISH carries (they won't even carry our local UPN because they got into a spat with the station owner), two of them have severe ghosting. If DISH would put fiber in from the stations to the POPs it would end the ghosting problems. DirecTV has fiber feeds from six of the eight local channels and you can see a BIG difference in the picture quality. DirecTV does not compress the locals as much as DISH does. On Sundays, I can not stand to watch a football game on DISH on our local CBS and FOX stations.
Memphis was recently turned on here and at first the quality wasn't great but it was 20 times better than the antenna I was using. I have noticed this past week how much better the PQ has gotten. I can't really tell a difference now between those channels and the regular channels. There was one channel that I was having with, the white was blinding on the screen, extremely bright. I e-mailed them they sent me a response and the problem was fixed this week. So basically I would think over time they tweak it and make it the best they can. I have been very happy.

Here is an e-mail response from them concerning the issue I had, it does a good job of explaining their process of converting locals to you:

Thank you for your email correspondence. At the Dish Network, we are striving to increase the quality of our product on a daily basis.  The local broadcast networks provide a very unique challenge for us as we are receiving them off air, just as residents in the local community do, with antennas.  We take that off air signal and process it through a variety of noise reduction equipment before converting it to a digital compressed signal. 

Even with our noise reduction processing, we are still "encoding" a lot of noise because of the off air signal, which takes away from the quality of the end product.  The solution to this is to receive the signals from the broadcasters via fiber optic cable directly into our equipment in each local city.  We are working with the broadcasters to achieve this for our mutual customers and hope to start making these conversions in the near future.  Again, thanks for your feedback and I hope this answers your questions.
Well, at least it sounds like Dish is willing to try for improvment. I am in a valley and cannot get locals without about a 60 foot tower which is unreasonable.

In some areas, here in town, people can get 3 or 4 channels, some of them fairly good. They also can pick up some Iowa locals. Three I think. Again the quality of reception is fair to good.

I sure hope Dish moves quicker with the fiber optics than they have with the new products we are all waiting for.
FWIW, my locals in Tampa are virtually unwatchable on my big screen. I rely on the 8vsb and my own antenna, and even there the analog signals suck. My local cable company keeps sending me bargain basement offers to switch. I must admit I had no idea that Dish uses antennas for their OTA. I always assumed the uplinks were all satellite from each station.
I hope they get their OTA signals straightened out quickly. My wife has to have her soap fix everyday and if the reception is lousy she's not gonna be happy. And you know what they say...."If Momma ain't happy, there ain't nobody happy!"
Its gonna depend on the size of your TV. If you're watching on a 20", maybe even of 25", it'll look great.

OTOH, a big screen needs all the information content available in an NTSC (analog OTA) signal to look good. Unfortunately, DBS providers remove alot of this content when they compress the signal. Their "target viewer" is the aforementioned small-screen user.
I don't think anyone really know how the locals are going to look off of the 105 Satellite. Lets not speculate that the locals are going to be of poor quality until we really know how much they compress them on this new bird.
austin locals

Austin locals are the absolute worst. The colors are so far off, that everyone is orange skinned on FOX. Although FOX is the worst, the other channels are nearly as bad.

I just emailed dishquality@echostar.com.
In general, what can one do to see the 105 locals before ordering them? Will a dealer or store be quick to install the SuperDish and subscribe to the locals in order to generate additional sales?

(wishing they ran the 'new locals' on 110 or 119 so you could at least preview them).
I'll be getting the Madison locals as soon as they as the Superdish can be installed. I'll let everyone know. I hope they have everything settled with ABC because I won't be able to hook up until they do because that's where all my wifes shows and soaps are.
On the Chicago locals, they look good/OK on my 35" direct view, on the 55" HDTV RTP not so great, but that sound normal for HDTV sets, they make SD content look worst then a SD set. One thing to keep in mind is that if you get the locals then you can use a Dish PVR to time shift them and it doesn't degrade the signal like a standalone TIVO or VHS.
I wonder if we can expect better picture quality for the locals at 105 that will require the SuperDish than those at 110 and 119. Will Dish not be able to compress on 105 (at least at this time until the new satellite goes up)?

The cable company that covers large portions of my state has listed on their website that all the locals are available in HD but seeing how most still do not have HD televisions yet then I suppose this will not be anything to consider at least in the near future for most but see the comparison of analog locals vs. digital locals on Dish Network.
The Tulsa locals weren't very good until 4 of the worst stations switched to direct fiber feeds. Now they are much better. But like other people, I use my 6000 8vsb and watch them in digital/HD when I'm home. Only use the satellite feeds for recording with my 721.
dbronstein said:
Denver locals look just fine on my 27" screen.


Even cable looks good on a 27 inch TV. Many of us have 46 inch (or larger) TVs and the locals tend to be more of a problem. One of my neighbors recently purchased a 50 inch widescreen TV (about $3500) and all he does is complain about the picture quality.

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