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Watch Maine Public Television and Additional Channels with an Antenna

family watching Maine Public Television

Over-the-Air Reception with an Antenna
Maine Public broadcasts four stations that many people across Maine and parts of New Hampshire can access with an HDTV antenna:

  • Maine Public Television
  • The CREATE Channel
  • The WORLD
  • PBS Kids 24/7 Channel

If you're thinking about cutting your cable service to save some money or realize that you don't need as many channels as cable provides, you'll need a good over-the-air antenna to watch some of your favorite shows.
Experiment with the type of antenna you can purchase and the location of that antenna in your home and you may very well find a cable-free solution to viewing Maine Public Television.

Here are some general steps to guide your over-the-air transformation:

Step 1: Find Out What's Available In Your Area

The first thing you should do is find out what channels are available in your area. Search sites like TV Fool and AntennaWeb to find out what's available. Both use your address to generate a list of channels near you, where they broadcast from, and how strong those channels will come in.

TV Fool is the better search tool. It creates a polar graph and color-coded list of channels organized by call signs, signal strength, and distance. You'll be able to tell quickly which channels will come in clearly, which will be noisy, and which ones won't come in at all. AntennaWeb, on the other hand, does a better job of explaining the different types of OTA antennae and the language you'll see when you go shopping. Most people in Maine will require a VHF/UHF antenna to receive all available channels.

Once you have an idea of the channels available to you, look up the call-signs to see what networks they represent. That'll give you an idea of which Maine Public's television channels you will be able to receive.

Step 2: Choose the Right HDTV Antenna

Once you know what's available, it's time to choose an antenna. We suggest purchasing a directional antenna as opposed to an omni-directional antenna.
The best option to receive our over-the-air signals is by using a roof or attic-mounted antenna, but that it isn't possible at every location. If you can't put up a rooftop or attic antenna, an amplified indoor antenna is highly recommended. Amplified rabbit ears is a good place to start.

NOT ALL RECEPTION IS THE SAME. Reception for digital signals varies greatly not just across the state, but across neighborhoods themselves. Your proximity to the broadcast signals, the local topography, and where you place your HDTV antenna in your house all play a role in your ability to receive an over-the air digital signal.

Consumer Reports tested antennas ranging in price from $8 to $80 and it found the cheapest often performed just as well as the priciest. So try an inexpensive one first and upgrade only if necessary. Here's a website we recommend as great resource for people purchasing HDTV antennas: antennasdirect.com.

Before you run out and spend money, consider building your own antenna. The great thing about DIY is that you spend virtually nothing to see what channels you really get, and you can figure out optimal antenna placement in your home. Plus, if your DIY antenna works well, keep it and save your money! YouTube features a number of DIY antenna projects for you to view.

man sitting on the floor watching TV

Step 3: How to Improve Your Signal, and What to Look Out For

Once you have your antenna home and set up, use your TV to scan for available channels. On most sets, this is all in the setup menu. Switch the coax input from cable to antenna, and then do an automatic channel scan. It'll scan for a few minutes, and then show you the available channels. Try them and note the quality. Then compare what you have against what TV Fool and AntennaWeb said. If everything's good, you're set.
When searching for digital TV signals, you must turn the antenna then scan for channels. You cannot turn the television to a channel and then start turning the antenna until it comes in.
If you're missing something you want or your reception is not acceptable, there are a few things you can try:

  • Try different locations and directions. If you have a lot of walls between your antenna and a window, or your antenna is omni-directional, but still not facing the direction your channels come from, try switching up its position and direction. With some models, even a few feet makes a huge difference, or placement near a window versus against an interior wall.
  • Consider an amplified antenna. Now, this is the point where you might want to consider a signal amplifier.
  • Keep your antenna away from other high-powered wireless gear. If you can, move your Wi-Fi gear and antenna away from each other or anything else filling the airwaves with signal that the antenna may perceive as noise.

Additional Hints and Tips

  • Get a longer length of coaxial cable (20+ feet) that connects to either your converter box or the antenna input on the back of your digital TV. This allows you to move your indoor antenna more freely throughout the room to determine where it works best.
  • When deciding where to place an indoor antenna not in the attic, the higher in the room is generally better.
  • Be sure to save your receipt to return your new antenna if it doesn't work!