Static Continues Over Television In Nelson

Roanoke / Lynchburg DMA
Roanoke / Lynchburg DMA

As we first told you here, folks living in Nelson County, Virginia have become quite enraged about not being able to receive Charlottesville local broadcast channels if you are not on cable. Those people who aren’t in a good enough location to receive the signal by regular television antenna (very few can) must use either DirecTV or Dish Network to get television reception. And if you live in Nelson, you see Roanoke / Lynchburg stations vs more relevant Charlottesville stations.

Even the general manager, Harold Wright, of NBC-29 chimed in on the discussion:

The Charlottesville television stations are well-aware of the situation in Nelson County.

Nelson County is listed as part of the Roanoke-Lynchburg Designated Market Area (DMA) because according to the television ratings company, Nielsen, Nelson Co households watch Roanoke-Lynchburg stations 29% of the time, and Charlottesville stations only 11% of the time (2008 County Summary for Virginia).

Nielsen is the sole arbiter of market assignment, and their definitions and analyses are used by the FCC for determining which stations may be carried by cable systems, DirecTV, and DISH.

The statement that those homes using antennas will lose coverage when the analog stations cease broadcasting, Feb 17, 2009, is not necessarily correct. Many digital stations have “maximized” their power and therefore, will provide a stronger signal from their digital transmitter. In the case of WVIR-TV the digital “footprint” reaches about 10 miles farther than the analog footprint.

If you are presently receiving a viewable analog signal from WVIR-TV, then it is likely that you will receive the station’s digital signal. And the good news is, if you receive the digital picture it will be perfect…no snow, and no ghosting.

Good Luck!

Harold Wright

This continues to be the most commented on topic thus far, and continues to gain immense interest.

Our commenter, Janet, offered the following information on having elected officials act:
Since the FCC is a Federal agency, I am thinking that those w/ ties in DC will carry the most clout but the Sups are on here too and easier to get in touch with:

from Common Cause – FIND YOUR ELECTED OFFICIALS (and hold them accountable!)

Nelson County Board of Supervisors:

I am going to emphasize that this is not just an inconvenience or disadvantage but a downright danger for us to be denied access to vital local information because of some stupid policy, esp. given our inadequate broadband access in rural Nelson.

Like Cindi said about her daughter being alone w/ a criminal on the loose, I know that I wouldn’t even have known about the bank robbery on Tuesday if I hadnt been online at work w/ access to Nelson County Life!

Keep the comments coming and we’ll keep the updates coming as well!


  1. We’ve been having lots of comments on this issue over in our other thread here: We’re moving the discussion here to keep it current, but it’s still the same topic, so keep the info coming!

    Alice Tor of Afton has been a real trooper on this topic and e-mail us tonight with the latest information she’s been able to find out. Some of the e-mail didn’t translate well into being pasted here, but you get the idea:

    Alice Tor wrote:
    The following is too long for a comment but it seems to be a fairly clear
    summary of the satellite TV situation at least from Nielsen’s point of view.
    From the Nielsen Co.’s website:

    Satellite & Local Television Issues

    Some subscribers to satellite television services may find that broadcast
    television stations from nearby cities are not offered by their satellite
    provider, even though more distant television stations are. On occasion,
    satellite subscribers have been led to believe that Nielsen Media Research is
    responsible for determining which stations are available to satellite
    television subscribers under federal legislation. However, this is not the

    Nielsen Media Research’s Designated Market Area (DMATM) region is a trademarked
    term that refers to a group of counties that form an exclusive geographic area;
    we use DMAs to measure television viewing by people who live in those counties.
    Based on which over-the-air stations receive the majority of viewing, we assign
    counties into a DMA. There are 210 DMAs, covering the entire continental United
    States, Hawaii, and parts of Alaska. Each county is assigned to only one DMA
    (there are a handful of exceptions). We use these DMAs solely in measuring who
    is watching what within a given area. However, DMAs were never intended to be
    used for the purposes that other companies are now using them.
    To help eliminate confusion, please read the following information.
    What role does Nielsen play in determining the stations that I receive with my
    local broadcast service?

    Nielsen Media Research is not responsible for, or involved in, these decisions.
    Our only activity is to measure who is watching what on television. To do that,
    we group counties together throughout the United States into geographic areas
    that we call DMAs.

    What does the federal legislation say?
    To help promote competition among distributors of television programming (such
    as satellite services like DirecTV or Echostar and cable television operators)
    and increase the television programming choices available to consumers,
    Congress passed the Satellite Home Viewer Act of 1999
    (âSHVIAâ). This law gave many satellite television subscribers
    the option to receive local broadcast stations over their satellite systems, by
    permitting the satellite service to provide a station’s signal to subscribers in
    that station’s own market. SHVIA also allowed satellite companies to provide
    âdistantâ broadcast stations’ signals to eligible subscribers.
    SHVIA used Nielsen Media Research DMAs – even though our DMAs were not intended
    or designed to be used this way – as the basis for determining whether
    television stations were âlocalâ or âdistant,â
    and thus, could be made available to satellite subscribers located in any given
    Five years later, Congress modified SHVIA by passing the Satellite Home Viewer
    Extension and Reauthorization Act of 2004 (SHVERAâ). Although SHVERA
    continued to use Nielsen Media Research’s DMAs to determine which stations are
    âlocalâ and which are âdistant,â the new law
    expanded the programming that satellite subscribers can receive to allow
    satellite companies to offer certain âsignificantly viewedâ
    distant stations.
    How can I get the stations I want?
    As enacted by Congress, the above laws do not require satellite providers to
    offer local stations to their subscribers who live in the same DMA, but
    satellite companies can do so, if they want. (This is known as
    âlocal-into-localâ service.) A satellite company that offers
    local-into-local service must provide its subscribers with any local station
    that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has assigned to the same DMA,
    and that has asked to be carried by the satellite company in that DMA. (Please
    note: A satellite company is not obligated to carry more than one local TV
    station that is affiliated with a particular TV network in the same state.)
    Your satellite provider may also be able to provide you with stations that the
    FCC has assigned to a DMA different from the one you live in, if you qualify as
    an âunserved household.â An unserved household is a household or
    subscriber that either cannot receive a signal of âgrade Bâ
    intensity from local broadcast stations using a traditional outdoor antenna.
    (RVs and commercial trucks with permanent satellite dishes can also qualify as
    unserved.) Your satellite provider can use a computer model to predict whether
    you can qualify to be an unserved household.

    Even if you are not an unserved household, the law enables you to
    request that your satellite company seek a waiver from the television stations
    in your area so that you can get stations from outside the DMA in which you

    In some instances, in addition to local-into-local satellite service, you may
    be able to receive some distant stations that are considered to be
    âsignificantly viewedâ in your community. It is up to your
    satellite provider to decide whether or not to offer significantly-viewed
    stations to their subscribers. If your satellite provider does offer
    significantly-viewed stations, you must also subscribe to the provider’s
    local-into-local service.

    Who can I contact about my local viewing choices?
    Satellite Companies
    Contact your satellite company to see if it offers local-into-local service
    that includes the local over-the-air television stations assigned by the FCC to
    the DMA you live in. Your satellite provider can also tell you what DMA you live
    Echostar subscribers: Echostar uses your street address to identify the DMA you
    live in.
    DirecTV subscribers: DirecTV uses your U.S. Postal zip code to identify your
    DMA. Sometimes, a zip code may cross a county line and continue into another
    DMA. Nielsen Media Research provides DirecTV with all zip codes in the country
    that cross county lines and that cross into a different DMA, and it is
    DirecTV’s responsibility to determine where its subscribers live within each
    such zip code.

    If you cannot receive an over-the-air signal for a station assigned to your
    DMA, ask your satellite company if you can be predicted to be
    ânserved.â If you are not predicted to be unserved, you may
    ask your satellite company to request a waiver on your behalf from the
    television stations in your area. You can also ask whether your provider offers
    significantly viewed stations from outside your area, and if so, which stations
    are on the significantly viewed list.
    Local Stations
    You can contact your local stations directly for more information on how to
    gain access to the programming they carry. Please remember that none of our
    research tells a local station what regional news they should cover, or where
    their news bureaus should be located. That is strictly up to each television
    station. If you are unsatisfied with the local service provided by your
    satellite provider, you may want to contact the television stations directly
    and let them know about your issues.
    You may wish to contact the office of your local Congressional representative
    for more details on how to get the television stations you want. You can also
    check out the FCC’s website at to read more.
    Information that explains both the Satellite Home Viewer Improvement Act of
    1999 (SHVIA) and the Satellite Home Viewer Extension and Reauthorization Act of
    2004 (SHVERA), can be found at

    We appreciate your research Alice and we urge everyone to contact their rewspective satellite provider and question this practice.


  2. Satellite dishes to carry local TV?
    Congressman moving to make it happen. Friday, September 05, 2008 (

    “We’ve drafted legislation, endorsed by the FCC; we’re urging the FCC to try and do it in February about the same time we’re making the transition. If not SHVIA, the satellite homeviewer act is up for reauthorization and we’ll stick it into there,” said Michigan’s Congressman Stupak
    Read full article:

    Also, you can read more about the bill introduced to congress (H.R. 5470) on the congressman’s website:

  3. I’m sorry but I do not see how this bill will help us. Our satellite companies already give us local TV; just the wrong local TV. This bill, forcing satellite companies to offer local TV in every market, will not do anything to allow us to get Ch’ville instead of Roanoke; I can’t see a solution to the Nelson/wrong DMA problem here.

  4. Actually Alice I think this might address it in a round about way. The “local into local” is where this might make Charlottesville happen. As I read it, this it addresses both those being made to watch a distant station (NY) for example, and in our case Roanoke. If you can (under the new law if it were to pass) demand the local into local we just might be able to get it.

    That said, I think the pressure must be kept up regardless, as I have no faith that government would follow through on this.


  5. The key is the wording. By striking `within that local market’ and inserting `within any local market’ in the ammendment, I would hope that would include Charlottesville.
    With that being said, Does Charlottesville receive Charlottesville locals through satallite?

    Refer to : for text of 5470

    I agree with Tommy. Pushing the right buttons locally could cause faster movement on the issue.

  6. Agreed.

    And yes, no question, folks in Albemarle can get local channels from Charlottesville on their sat dish. I know for a fact Dish Network offers them, I can’t say for sure about DirecTV. Our friends living right on the Nelson-Albemarle line get Charlottesville channels via Dish Network.

  7. Thought others might find this information helpful. I contacted all the elected officials via their websites (per an earlier post by Janet) re: these issues.

    I received a response letter from Virgil Goode, stating that he would gladly forward along a copy of my letter to the FCC (if I would provide a signed hard copy sent to his Rocky Mount address), attached with a letter of his own. Below is his address:

    Representative Virgil H. Goode, Jr.
    70 East Court Street, Suite 215
    Rocky Mount, VA 24151

    I also got a response from Senator Deeds’ office, stating that because this is a federal regulation issue, I should bring it to the attention of Senator Webb, and he provided the following contact information for doing that:
    You can contact Senator Webb’s office at:
    507 East Franklin Street
    Richmond, VA 23219
    Phone: 804-771-2221
    Fax: 804-771-8313

  8. I read the subject comments with great interest. Kudos to all who have addressed this subject on your forum. Having looked into the possiblity of getting WVIR on DISH nearly two years ago, I have came to the conclusion that our policy makers on the FCC know better than us as to what local area network or stations we should watch. It is refreshing to read that we have people who feel as I do.

    When, I signed on with DISH, it was explained in great detail by the local installation folks that if you live in Nelson County, you can not get Charlottesville or even Harrisonburg as a local option. That caused me to look at the marketing policy (s) of the signal providers from Roanoke and their preceived marketing area. I encourage the readers to go look for yourself, their marketing map does not include Nelson County. Yet, our so called braintrust who make such decisions need to see what WSLS or WDBJ market area maps show. I would be very happy to send a copy of the map to anyone if it has been removed from their site recently.


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