For the first time, TV watchers who get their programming from over-the-air signals now have an on-screen guide like the ones on cable and satellite systems.
After several days of working the bugs out, KCTU-TV is broadcasting a service called “TV Scout” with a rolling guide to programs on most of the over-the-air channels in Wichita, meaning viewers don’t have to surf from channel to channel to figure out what’s on.
While most Wichita-area viewers have pay-TV from cable or satellite providers, the offerings in over-the-air programming have burgeoned since the switchover from analog to digital signals in 2009.
The new technology allowed full-power and low-power broadcast stations to add multiple channels to their lineups, where before they could only broadcast one program at a time.
In addition to traditional network TV, Wichita viewers can receive as many as 34 free channels with an antenna, including three variants of the Public Broadcasting Service, two dedicated weather channels and a variety of specialty channels offering vintage television programs, movies, outdoor sports, and programming aimed at African-American and Latino audiences.
KCTU, formerly the stand-alone Channel 5, now broadcasts six different channels on 43.1 through 43.6. The company has dedicated Channel 43.4 to the program guide, said KCTU News Director R.J. Dickens.
The station launched the program guide over the past weekend, but took it down after a few hours, Dickens said.
He said a glitch in the interface between TV Scout’s web-based service and KCTU’s TV transmitter resulted in type being displayed that was too small for most viewers to read.
The problem was solved and the program guide was on the air again Wednesday.