TV Answer Man, I am caught in the middle of the fight between Dish and our local CBS station in Houston. We have had Dish for seven years and want to keep it, but we are big football fans and the games are on CBS. Is there anyway to keep watching our local channel without getting rid of Dish and subscribing to another service? — Jo, Houston.
Jo, Dish on Wednesday night said it lost 64 local network affiliates in 53 markets (CBS, ABC, Fox, NBC and the CW) in a carriage dispute with their owner, Tegna, including your CBS affiliate in Houston, KHOU-TV.
I expect the blackout will not last more than a month, and it could even be settled within a week based on the track records of both companies. But while it’s occurring, there are some ways for you, and other Tegna viewers, to continue watching local programming.
1. TV Antenna
There are definitely some pros and cons to getting an indoor or outdoor antenna so allow me to offer a few here so you can determine whether this alternative will work for you.
Pro: Free Local Channels
Yes, your local channels (ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, PBS, Univision, etc.) are available via a TV antenna, and they are free. Not only that, they can deliver a better HD picture over an antenna compared to cable or satellite. The latter tend to compress the signals of local (and all) channels, which tends to dilute the picture quality. The TV providers do this for several reasons, including creating more system room to deliver more channels. The signal your antenna receives directly from the local channel is purer (layman’s term, folks) and therefore a better one.
Pro: Antennas Are Not Expensive
The TV antenna, whether it’s indoor or outdoor, costs less than $100 with many indoor models well under $30. With local channels free, that’s a great deal for consumers looking to cut expenses. (Note: The outdoor antenna can normally pick up more channels than the indoor one. But indoor antennas are becoming more efficient every year with new models and new technology.)
Con: The Antenna May Not Work at Your Location
Before you run off to buy an antenna, you need to know that depending upon the location of your home, your antenna may not be able to pick up the signals of all your local channels. You may live too far away from the channel’s tower to get a decent signal, or you could have a major obstacle in the signal’s path, such as a high-rise office building or mountain.
Pro: The Technology Is Improving
As noted earlier, in the last few years, the antenna companies have done a great job of beefing up their products, offering indoor antennas that can pick up signals as far away as 75 miles. Yes, indoor antennas. If you had a bad experience with an antenna several years ago, you might be pleasantly surprised at how far they have come.
2. Web sites
Many local stations offer their news programs live and for free at their web sites. (KHOU-TV, in the Houston market, is one that does.) While this doesn’t permit you to watch the station’s primetime lineup, you can keep up with its newscasts.
3. News On
If you have trouble with the web site, News On is a streaming app that also offers local newscasts, both live and on demand. You can learn more about it here at NewsOn.
Paramount+, the streaming service, offers a live feed of your local CBS channel as well as on demand programming from the network, and a large number of shows and movies from other sources. Note: The live CBS feed requires the $9.99 a month plan.
Jo, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and stay safe!
Have a question about new TV technologies? Send it to The TV Answer Man at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and hometown in your message.
— Phillip Swann