16 X 9 Programming & channel 21-4

On December 17th WXXI started converting all programming from a 4x3 aspect ratio to a 16x9 ratio... this means that programs viewed on a 4x3  (old style set) will be letterboxed.  This means the picture will be smaller and have black bands at the top and bottom.  Some programs are still being fed to WXXI from PBS already in a letterbox format this adds even more 'black' area on the sides.  If the viewer is using a set-top box, there is a feature that allows the viewer to 'zoom-in' to improve the picture size.

During this transition channel 21.4, known as our standard definition simulcast channel has been discontinued, as all programming is not available on digital channel 21.1, cable 11 or digital cable 1011.
YES!  WXXI is broadcasting in a digital format available on cable and over the air. 


How come my new converter box signal keeps flipping on and off?

Two of our TV's are on cable, so I don't have to worry about them.

Our third little TV in the corner of the kitchen is on bunny ears, is 12 years old, and still works well

My husband and resident handyman installed a converter box last week, and it worked fine on the kitchen counter where they worked. After they moved it onto the corner windowsill where we keep it, the signal became much more problematic. It was very erratic, depends on if you are standing by it too.

Even if I rotate the bunny ears 360 degrees, take them out of their spot on the back of the little TV, move them around the room, the message of not having a signal will come through. Sometimes when I move away it might flip back in on an intermittent basis --- that's really annoying to have it be tuned to a channel and then just have it randomly flip back and forth from receiving to no signal.

It's almost like it works well when I first turn it on, then it degrades and starts flipping as it warms up.

It's a chilly corner of the room, but the connections are solid. Can bunny ears wear out? Can I get new ones? What's up?

Please help me! - Mary Lynn Vickers


Richard R's picture

Rabbit ear antennas have been struggling to pick up digital signals, mostly because they have a very limited UHF band, so you likely need a better antenna. WXXI recommends the Terk HDTVi model (looks like a Christmas tree and can be found at Rowe Photos) and the Phillips PHDTV3 (it can be ordered at www.jr.com) as indoor antennas. You can also try a signal strength scan, followed by another channel scan first (the Zenith DTT 901 model, in particular, allows this by pressing menu and then selecting signal strength). If you have anymore questions you can call the WXXI DTV Hotline at 1-866-386-9994.

Signals con't

Jillian K's picture

Also, if you have moved the set, you may need to do another channel scan, which is recommended each time you move the antenna.

expired coupons

How can I get new coupons as ours expired.?

Expired Coupons

Unfortunately, there is no way for you to get more coupons. We recommend that you check with friends and relatives to see if they have coupons they are not using that you can have. You can buy a converter box without a coupon at a reasonable price and you will need to do so before the conversion.

Small Screen

I can't sit any closer to the set either.
I have an old set and I don't have the money to buy a new one.

I will stop watching WXXI until you fix it!!!

Letter and Pillar Box

Richard R's picture

WXXI formats all of its shows in 16 X 9 format; however, some networks (including PBS) are still sending shows down in a 4 X 3 aspect ratio, which results in either black being all around the picture screen (called pillar box) or black bands on the top and bottom of the screens (called letter box, and it is wide screen format as well). You can either change the aspect ratio (some controls have a specific button, but it is recommended you read your manual to find out the specifics of your box and/or set) and/or select to zoom in (it can be a button right on the remote as well) on the picture, giving you a larger, and generally quality, picture. If you have any more questions you can call the WXXI DTV Hotline at 1-866-386-9994.

You don't understand. I have

You don't understand. I have an old set that does not have aspect controls or zoom. I am watching WXXI (or trying to) on cable, and many of the shows being broadcast are shrunken. You need to fix it.

Letter and Pillar Box

Richard R's picture

Unfortunately anything shrunken on cable and satellite cannot be adjusted by you. It's a formatting issue, in that WXXI formats in a digital aspect ratio of 16 X 9, whilst networks (including PBS) may still feed in an analog 4 X 3 ratio. What that means is, essentially, there is a 4 X 3 box inside of a 16 X 9 box. Being that this is a cable and network issue (the same goes for satellite), the only hope is that by June 12, or soon thereafter, all shows will be formatted in 16 X 9.


If programming on 21-4 has been discontinued, why is it still listed on the TV schedule on WXXI's Television grid? It's also listed on Dishnet's on line guide.

About the online TV Schedule...

Andrew Wheeland's picture

Hello, Dan.

You're catching us all in the middle of transition, but the reason for 21.4 still existing on our online TV schedules is due to a switchover that all PBS stations are making from one online schedule system to another.  Here, have a preview of our new TV Schedules... We should have them linked up as our primary TV schedules sometime this week as soon as we have the last few visual issues fixed up:  http://interactive.wxxi.org/tv/schedules

I can't explain what's up with Dishnet, however. :-)

Andrew Wheeland - Director of Interactive Services

Is the WXXI HD single 720p or 1080p

We do not have cable and only watch the over the air HD digital signals from Rochester stations. We are considering whether we really need a TV that is 1080p or is 720p good enough?

Can you tell us the resolution of the HD broadcasts from WXXI?



Chris Clark's picture

The WXXI-HD broadcast is a 1080i signal. Any type of HDTV you buy will be able to display any HD signal: 720p, 1080i, and 1080p by upscaling/downscaling the picture. Currently there are no HD broadcasts that are 1080p.

The advantage of a 1080p TV would become visible if you use a high definition DVD player (Blu-ray) which outputs a 1080p picture. So, if you plan on buying a Blu-ray player in the future, go for the 1080p TV. If you're just going to use the TV for over-the-air broadcasts and standard DVD's, a 720p should be fine.