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TV Antennas Making a Comeback with the Digital Age

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SMITHFIELD — Digital television is here and the newwide-screen setsare selling. But you can't get digital signals, includingWRAL-HD'shigh definition channel 32, on cable.

The only way to receive HDTV and other forms of digital television is over the air. And while we don't see antennas on top of homes much these days, particularly in urban areas, that's all about to change.

Broadcasting requires antennas. They've been around as long as television has. Now they're making a comeback with the change from analog to digital television.

The people ofChannel Masterin Smithfield make more TV antennas than anyone in the world. There's no doubt cable hurt the business, but assembly lines are busy putting parts and pieces together for the digital television revolution.

"So, yes, it's going to be a great growth for the industry," says George Jusaites of Channel Master.

The satellite industry will announce in a few months that HDTV and standard digital transmission will be available over two satellites.

"One high-power satellite which you will get your direct broadcast satellite programming, the other satellite which is a medium-power satellite, you'll be able to get your HDTV programming," explains Jusaites.

Most digital channels will broadcast on UHF frequencies so smaller antennas can be used. They are expected to be more readily adopted by homeowners.

"We are designing antennas that will be more aesthetically pleasing to the homeowner and tend to blend more with the environment," says Duffy Paul of Channel Master.

If you already use an antenna, you may not need a new one.

"Any off air antenna that's in relatively good shape, fairly new and you are capable of picking up a good analog signal now, you'll be able to pick up a digital signal with it," says Paul.

Some homeowners' covenants attempt to prohibit or discourage the use of rooftop antennas and small satellite dishes. However,FCCregulations are federal laws and override such local rules.