Rabbit ears at half mast: WXEL signal slips from local indoor antennas

A merger of public broadcasting stations has changed WXEL’s signal transmission point from Boynton Beach to Miami and left some over-the-air viewers with snowy screens.

It has crimped Zach Schwartz’s strategy to cut the cord with cable and satellite services and enjoy what he can by way of a rabbit-ears antenna.

Since the signal change Aug. 22, “I”ve had no PBS,” said Schwartz of West Palm Beach. “I was kind of disappointed.”

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About 500 viewers have inquired, station officials said, and they’re working to make sure those viewers know all their options.

“Due to the relocation of the WXEL signal and the transmission facility, we were prepared for the eventuality that some of our viewers would not be able to continue to receive our signal over-the-air,” said Jeneissy Azcuy, senior director of communications for South Florida PBS.

Station officials “will continue to try to help them through this process to the best of our ability,” she said.

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One step was publicizing a “rescan day,” meaning reset TV equipment to find the new signal.

WXEL’s website says “the main issue preventing viewers from receiving the WXEL signal over-the-air is their indoor antenna. If you have a similar situation, we recommend that you change the orientation of the antenna to face south or replace it with an outdoor antenna.”

WPBT2, whose largest viewing counties include Miami-Dade, Broward and Monroe, and WXEL-TV, seen primarily in Palm Beach County and the Treasure Coast, agreed in 2015 to pool resources and become South Florida PBS. A combined station could be seen by an estimated 2.42 million households, station executives said at the time.

Azcuy said station officials have a “good estimate” of how many viewers received WXEL over the air in Palm Beach County, but those details come from a confidential market report.

Schwartz said employees have been courteous and responsive, but he still has a lot of questions about his options. He’s not sure if he will have to pay perhaps $100 for a more powerful antenna if he wishes to get the signal over the air.

Cable and satellite services have updated their line-ups to reflect the signal change.

Other options include following programming through internet and streaming devices.

“It is very important to us that you continue to receive free access to public television and the cultural, educational and entertainment programs that are essential parts of our mission to serve the people of South Florida,” WXEL’s website says.

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