It used to be simple, Milwaukee Public TV had two channels, 10 and 36.
Then came digital TV and public television outlets boosted the number of channels they offer, providing jazz and classical music along with the PBS programming.
Well, digital TV remains something of a work in progress, and plans are progressing to offer HD programming on Channel 36, in addition to high-definition programming that airs on Channel 10.
That's just one of the reason for a shuffling of MPTV's digital sub-channels that's scheduled to happen on the morning of Sept. 1.
Perhaps the more important reason is continuing problems with Channel 10's reception.
The reasons are complicated, starting with the fact that over-the-air digital channels aren't really the number that pops up on your TV screen. Most are actually UHF channels, but they continue to use the old numbers viewers knew in the analog broadcasting days.
Channel 10 is a relative rarity, it's actually broadcasting on Channel 8, a VHF channel. And one of the things broadcasters have learned since the digital transition last year is that VHF digital channels have some problems.
MPTV general manager Ellis Bromberg says more than 1,000 calls, letters and e-mails have come in since the transition complaining of problems with Channel 10 reception.
"We'll see if this really resolves most of the problems," says Bromberg. If not, the fix could prove expensive.
None of these changes will affect cable viewers, only the minority of TV watchers who depend on an over-the-air antenna.
The shuffle is also designed to make sure over-the-air viewers who can't get Channel 10, can receive Channel 10 programming in a non-HD simulcast as Channel 36.2.
Starting Sept. 1, this will be the over-the-air lineup for Channels 10 and 36:
- 10.1 MPTV-10-HD
- 10.2 MPTV World
- 10.3 MPTV V-me
- 10.4 MPTV Weather (upgraded)
- 36.1 MPTV-36 (HD in early 2011)
- 36.2 MPTV-10 (simulcast; not HD)
- 36.3 MPTV Create
- 36.4 MPTV Classical
- 36.5 MPTV Jazz
- 36.6 MPTV Traffic
The HD version of Channel 36 won't start broadcasting until early next year. But the change is being made now to get the channel shuffle out of the way with one shot.
If you don't rescan your digital TV (or converter box), you may not get all the available channels.
I recommend regular rescanning to make sure you're getting everything that's out there.
One other change coming is an upgraded weather channel. Bromberg says MPTV has contracted with Accuweather to provide more weather information on the channel, which currently carries very basic audio and video from the National Weather Service.
Speaking of digital TV: As long as we're talking about digital sub-channels, Channel 6 is using its digital Channel 6.2 next Tuesday to carry its 9 p.m. newscast, while the main channel is airing Fox's MLB All-Star Game.
Channel 6.2, which carries Retro TV's lineup of old television shows, is available on Time Warner Cable's Channel 991 and Charter Cable's Channel 967.
Take that, Jay and NBC: The short-lived Conan O'Brien version of NBC's "Tonight Show" got an Emmy nomination in the best variety, music or comedy series category, along with "The Daily Show," "Real Time with Bill Maher," "Saturday Night Live" and "The Colbert Report." It got nominations in three other categories, as well.
No, Jay Leno's failed prime-time show didn't get an Emmy nomination. HBO's "The Pacific," got 24 nominations, and Fox's "Glee" got 19.
The awards will be given out Aug. 29 on NBC.
The nominees were announced this morning by "Modern Family" co-star Sophie Vergara and "Community" co-star Joel McHale.
On the homefront, Green Bay's own Tony Shalhoub picked up his eighth Emmy nomination as outstanding lead actor in a comedy series for the final season of his "Monk."
Among the other nomination highlights:
- Outstanding comedy series: "Curb Your Enthusiasm," "Glee," "Nurse Jackie," "The Office," "30 Rock."
- Outstanding drama series: "Breaking Bad," "Dexter," "The Good Wife," "Lost," "Mad Men," "True Blood."
- Outstanding reality-competition program: "The Amazing Race," "American Idol," "Dancing with the Stars," "Project Runway," "Top Chef."
You can find a complete list of nominees at the Emmy Web site.
And if you didn't catch "The Pacific," here's a look at the most-nominated show in this year's Emmy list:
Tim Cuprisin is the media columnist for OnMilwaukee.com. He's been a journalist for 30 years, starting in 1979 as a police reporter at the old City News Bureau of Chicago, a legendary wire service that's the reputed source of the journalistic maxim "if your mother says she loves you, check it out." He spent a couple years in the mean streets of his native Chicago, and then moved on to the Green Bay Press-Gazette and USA Today, before coming to the Milwaukee Journal in 1986.
A general assignment reporter, Cuprisin traveled Eastern Europe on several projects, starting with a look at Poland after five years of martial law, and a tour of six countries in the region after the Berlin Wall opened and Communism fell. He spent six weeks traversing the lands of the former Yugoslavia in 1994, linking Milwaukee Serbs, Croats and Bosnians with their war-torn homeland.
In the fall of 1994, a lifetime of serious television viewing earned him a daily column in the Milwaukee Journal (and, later the Journal Sentinel) focusing on TV and radio. For 15 years, he has chronicled the changes rocking broadcasting, both nationally and in Milwaukee, an effort he continues at OnMilwaukee.com.
When he's not watching TV, Cuprisin enjoys tending to his vegetable garden in the backyard of his home in Whitefish Bay, cooking and traveling.