NY stations unite in tower site search

Jan 7, 2002  •  Post A Comment

New York television stations are working together to find a permanent location for their shared antenna tower, which was lost when the World Trade Center was destroyed by terrorists Sept. 11.
In mid-November, the stations, through their joint organization called Metropolitan Television Association, hired a permanent executive director, Doug Land. Mr. Land will conduct studies and oversee the search for two sites-a primary site and a backup site.
Mr. Land is a former VP in charge of legal and business affairs for the Chris-Craft Industries stations and now spends his time scoping out possible sites for the antenna towers with the help of an engineering consultant.
Stations that were transmitting from 1 World Trade Center were: WCBS-TV, WNBC-TV, WABC-TV, WNYW-TV, WWOR-TV, WPIX-TV, WNET-TV, WPXN-TV and WNJU-TV. Most have temporarily moved to the Empire State Building. WPXN is temporarily broadcasting from South Orange, N.J., and WNJU is temporarily transmitting from Alpine, N.J. WNYW, which before Sept. 11 was broadcasting a digital signal from the Empire State Building, will stay there permanently.
Mr. Land said WXTV and WFUT-TV, two Univision stations, had always transmitted from the Empire State Building and that WCBS had backup antennas there prior to the attacks. All are members of the MTVA, which meets once a week in its quest to find an antenna-site solution.
“Everybody realized that they had to do something about relocating facilities. They realized it had to be coordinated by a central entity, and this organization was the entity,” Mr. Land said.
For the first few weeks after Sept. 11, New York viewers, many of which still rely on broadcast signals, could only receive WCBS over the air.
The association is not ruling out using the Empire State Building as a permanent location, but studies are being conducted now to determine how to accommodate both digital and analog signals, whether the roof has to be rebuilt and whether the existing antenna tower has to be redone.
Another location being talked about is the federally owned Governors Island, a former Coast Guard base in New York harbor located between Manhattan and Staten Island. A tower would have to be built on part of the island and would have to meet Federal Aviation Administration guidelines. Besides having to work within FAA restrictions, the MTVA can only look into sites that are within 3.2 miles of the WTC, Mr. Land said. The mileage requirement is part of the Federal Communications Commission’s digital allocation plan, based on noninterference standards by the FCC throughout the country that are already in place.
The stations will jointly pay for the studies and antenna tower. The association hopes to have its permanent tower up and running by Sept. 11, 2003.