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NY Area Broadcasters to Discuss New Tower to Replace WTC Facility

Television Broadcasters Form Coalition to Address Regional Television Industry Crisis (October 30, 2001)
When the World Trade Center Towers collapsed on September 11, they took with them the analog and brand-new digital transmission facilities of nearly every television broadcaster in the New York City metropolitan area, dealing a crippling blow to the industry and leaving the more than three million people who use rooftop antennas or rabbit ears without access to timely news, education, and entertainment programming. In order to address this crisis, the major television broadcasters in the region have formed a coalition to restore television service as soon as possible.

The members of the coalition are: WABC-TV, channel 7; WCBS-TV, channel 2, WHSE-TV, channel 68; WNBC, channel 4: WNET, channel 13; WNJU, channel 47; WNYW, channel 5; WPIX, channel 11; WPXN-TV, channel 31; WWOR-TV, channel 9; and WXTV, channel 41.

"The future of public and commercial broadcasting in the region is literally at stake right now. The damage to our over-the-air broadcasting capabilities represents the potential loss of billions of dollars in revenue to New York and the tri-state region, and could change the face of American broadcasting forever," said Bill Baker, president and CEO of coalition member station WNET. "The loss is not simply to the broadcasters, but to every individual and business that relies on television service as a means of giving and getting information, and of generating income."

Since September 11, New York and New Jersey broadcasters have been contacted by thousands of viewers who feel they have been cut off from familiar and reliable sources of information and communication. Particularly hard hit are the many elderly people and people on fixed incomes who cannot afford cable or satellite service and therefore rely on free, over-the-air television for news, entertainment and educational programming."

The loss of analog transmitters was not the only blow to area stations. WABC-DT, WNBC-DT, WNET-DT, WPIX-DT, and WWOR-DT had only recently commenced digital broadcasting from the World Trade Center as part of the federally mandated transition to all-digital broadcasting by 2006. America has been counting upon New York broadcasters to lead the way to digital television. With the loss of the digital transmitters on September 11, the broadcasters are now in great danger of not making the transition on time - threatening the possibility that the region will be left behind during one of the most promising technological revolutions of our era and that spectrum auctions on which federal budget projections were premised will be considerably delayed or produce less revenue. A late conversion to digital will necessarily have serious economic repercussions in industries as diverse as advertising and consumer electronics.

The broadcasters have come together to explore all options for immediate and long-term restoration of service. The coalition's first priority is to restore analog service immediately; but the ultimate solution must accommodate both analog and digital facilities.

With no other existing building or tower that meets the criteria for most broadcasters to serve the area with clear, consistent, safe, non-interfering transmission of analog and digital television signals that would substantially replicate the area served before September 11, the coalition believes that the only practical long-term solution may be to build and manage a dedicated transmission tower to be shared among the broadcasters. The coalition is carefully studying this option at the present time.

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