Tag Archives: repack

Raycom Signs Xmtr. Deal With GatesAir For 65 Stations

Raycom Media and GatesAir have inked a deal under which the transmitter manufacturer will provide Maxiva transmitters and installation services covering 65 TV stations in 44 markets.

The Raycom purchase includes GatesAir broadband transmitters, RF systems and installation services. The station group is buying Maxiva UHF liquid-cooled as well as Maxiva UHF and VHF air-cooled transmitters. The deal also includes the Maxiva XTE encoder, which is ATSC 3.0-ready, and the latest GatesAir RTAC software to provide real-time adaptive correction.

All transmitters are based on GatesAir’s PowerSmart Plus technology to reduce size, weight and power consumption.

The transmitters are a part of Raycom Media’s RF retooling to comply with the channel assignment changes made necessary by the FCC’s TV spectrum repack.

More information is available on the GatesAir website.

Quincy Media Chooses GatesAir As Exclusive TX Source For Repack

Quincy Media has selected GatesAir to provide transmitters, installation services and commissioning groupwide on an exclusive basis to meet its needs for the FCC-mandated TV spectrum repack, GatesAir announced today.

The deal includes new Maxiva ULXTE liquid-cooled UHF and VAXTE air-cooled VHF transmitters, while existing GatesAir transmitters at select stations will be modified to meet new channel assignments, the company said.

While the group has stations in all 10 repack phases, it is Phase 1 that is most concerning to Brady Dreasler, corporate director of engineering at Quincy.

“We are conducting tower studies at all sites to confirm what level of reinforcement work will be required,” said Dreasler. “But we feel prepared with our transmitter choices, and the new TPO levels for each of these channels.”

The GatesAir XTE exciter used in these transmitters “sets us up for ATSC 3.0 transitions coming out of the repack period,” he said.

Quincy Media and GatesAir are working on determining which existing transmitters can be channel-changed.

Dreasler and GatesAir are working on a plan to bring in temporary backup transmitters to station transmitter plants where space is limited while work progresses to meet repack requirements.

At sites where space is limited, the plan being considered envisions a trailer housing the temporary transmitter so that it can be moved from site to site to keep stations on-air while repack work is being done.

More information is available on the GatesAir website.

GatesAir To Assist WTTW In Repack With Transmitter, Planning

GatesAir is providing a Maxiva ULXTE high-efficiency, liquid-cooled UHF TV transmitter to WTTW for its move to ch. 25 as part of the FCC TV spectrum repack.

WTTW, the primary PBS member station in Chicago, has chosen GatesAir to meet its FCC TV spectrum repack requirements, the company announced today.

The station will use a GatesAir Maxiva ULXTE high-efficiency, liquid-cooled UHF TV transmitter in preparation for its move from UHF ch. 47 to ch. 25, the company said.

Owned by Window to the World Communications, WTTW carries PBS on its main channel, with WTTW Prime, Create/World and PBS Kids on its secondary channels.

The FCC has assigned the station to Phase 6 of the repack. As such it must relocate by Oct. 18, 2019.

GatesAir has provided a range of technical service to assist the station in its transition, including transmitter evaluation. It also has provided a full transition plan for WTTW, including replacement, installation and commission.

More information is available on the GatesAir website.

List Of Stations Changing Channel Assignments In Repack

No doubt many in the TV industry are poring over yesterday’s FCC public notice and associated documents wrapping up the incentive auction and officially starting the 39-month clock to complete the TV spectrum repack.

Count me among those who are a bit bleary-eyed after focusing on one such document: “Final Television Channel Assignment Information Related To Incentive Auction Repacking.” (That file is available as an Excel spreadsheet download from the FCC.)

My mission was to extract only the stations changing channel assignments from the entire table of allotments and to present them in TVNewsCheck’s own list.

I have been through the FCC spreadsheet at least a dozen times, literally, to make sure I didn’t miss a station changing channel assignments, but alas, I am only human. So if you find an error, please email me and I will update this list.

Focus On TV Spectrum Repack at 2017 NAB Show

Job one for TV broadcasters at the 2017 NAB Show will be planning for the TV spectrum repack, which is upon them.

A close second will be next-gen TV service based on the ATSC 3.0 standard.

While reimbursements from the $1.75 billion Broadcast Relocation Fund may not be used to upgrade the RF infrastructure of stations beyond what exists today, decisions made about the technology to be deployed and whether or not to incur added expenses, which stations will pay themselves for next-gen TV while repacking, must soon be made.

At the 2017 NAB Show and at the 2017 PBS TechCon, there will be a cornucopia of sessions devoted to both topics.

What follows is list of NAB Show and PBS TechCon sessions that address the repack directly.

A special effort has been made to separate repack sessions from those related to ATSC 3.0 for your convenience when planning your visit to Las Vegas. However, there may be some overlap. If your primary interest is the ATSC 3.0, I have segregated those sessions on a separate blog post found here.

Of course, more details are available about the repack sessions on the NAB Show website and the PBS TechCon website.

PBS TechCon 2017 (Caesars Palace)

  • “Planning for TV Spectrum Repacking and the Transition to ATSC 3.0,” Friday, April 21, 11-11:50 a.m.
  • “Spectrum Repack Planning Conversation,” Friday, April 21, 1:30-2:20 p.m.

2017 NAB Show Broadcast Engineering and Information Technology Conference

  • “Sinclair’s 3.0 Vision – The Future of Broadcasting,” Saturday, April 22, 10:15-10:55 a.m., LVCC N262-N264.
  • “Planning for TV Spectrum Repacking and the Transition to ATSC 3.0,” Sunday, April 23, 10:30-11 a.m., LVCC N260.
  • “Sinclair Broadcast Group Update on Repack and ATSC 3.0,” Monday, April 24, 9:30-9:45 a.m., LVCC N235-N237.
  • “An Advanced Slot Antenna Design Method to Facilitate the Repack,” Tuesday, April 25, 2:30-3 p.m., LVCC N256.
  • “Very-Sharp Filter Enhanced Compensation in ATSC 1.0 & ATSC 3.0,” Tuesday, April 25, 3-3:30 p.m., LVCC N256.
  • “Building an Advanced Customizable RF Transmission System at One World Trade Center,” Wednesday, April 26, 9-10 a.m., LVCC N258.
  • “Temporary TV Antennas Streamline Main Antenna Change-Out,” Wednesday, April 26, 10-10:30 a.m., LVCC N258.
  • “Pre-Spectrum Repack RF Plant Readiness – Overview and Case Study,” Wednesday, April 26, 11-11:30 a.m., LVCC N258.

Others of Interest

  • “The 115th Congressional Update: The Future of Broadcast Policy” – Business of Broadcast, Monday, April 24, 4-5 p.m., LVCC N253.
  • “FCC Chairman’s Keynote” – Business of Broadcast, General Session, Tuesday, April 25, 9-10 a.m., LVCC N249-N251.
  • “Repacking: Do We Have Enough Nuts and Bolts?” – Business of Broadcast, Tuesday, April 25, 10:15-11:15 a.m., LVCC N255.


Let’s All Do The Two-Step Tower Tango

Here’s the problem. At most, broadcasters have 39 months to complete their move to a new channel assignment if and when the incentive auction is complete.

That’s not much time, especially when certain finite industry resources — most notably the crews qualified to work on tall TV towers — are taken into consideration.

It simply takes time to rig a tower, uninstall a six ton antenna from the top of a tower — worst case scenario — and install a new one. And that’s just the most obvious antenna- and tower-related challenge.

There are many others, including what some call the tower aperture, or size of vacant places on the tower that may or may not be sufficient for the size of the new antenna to be mounted; minimizing the impact on other tenants on the tower; and weather, which must be taken into consideration. Each of these, and many others, contribute to delays the industry can ill afford as the 39-month clock ticks down to zero.

Tango chartTo expedite antenna replacement, many are advocating a two-step tango on TV towers where crews install an auxiliary, broadband side-mount antenna first to keep a station on air. Then later, when the smoke clears from the mad dash to the repack finish line, design, build and install a permanent antenna that replicates as closely as possible today’s coverage contour.

An ex parte notification to the FCC dated July 29 from T-Mobile makes the case.

“Broadcast auxiliary antennas will play an important role in the transition of broadcast television operations following the close of the 600 MHz incentive auction because these antennas bridge the gap between the broadcasters’ current and final channel assignments,” it says.

These antennas “provide added flexibility to both broadcasters and the commission,” the filing says.

“Among other things, broadcasters can prepare for a smooth transition by purchasing broadband auxiliary antennas prior to knowing their final channel assignments because the broadband antenna is not customized for a particular channel, but rather can tune to any one of a wide range of channels as needed depending on the broadcaster’s final channel assignment,” T-Mobile says in the filing.

This type of temporary antenna is attractive for other reasons as well. They are relatively light, simple to install and can be used post-transition as a backup, or — depending on the auxiliary antenna’s pattern — can be removed from the tower and reinstalled elsewhere as part of a single frequency network made possible by the ATSC 3.0, next-generation TV standard.

“Going to a two-step is not going to require a gin pole and will require much lighter rigging equipment,” says Jay Martin, Dielectric VP of sales, adding that the National Association of Tower Erectors is soon expected to release new gin pole requirements that could introduce delays as tower crews strengthen or replace them. (A gin pole typically only comes into play when replacing a top-mount antenna on a tall tower.)

The two-step process also improves the odds of a successful flash cut to new channel assignments, says Bill Harland, VP of marketing at antenna and tower manufacturer Electronics Research Inc.

For a flash cut to work, all stations moving to new channel assignments will have to be ready to go at once. Relying on temporary antennas decreases the likelihood of having to wait for stragglers to finish more complicated, longer installations of top-mount antennas, he says.

However, not everyone is convinced that the two-step tango will play as big of a role in the success of the repack as advocates suggest.

Cindy Hutter Cavell, managing partner at engineering consultancy Cavell, Mertz & Associates, says the approach will simply complicate things further.

“I fail to see how temporary antennas expedite things, because now you’ve added another installation into the mix,” she says. “OK, you now have one or two or six interim antennas on this tower, so you have to strengthen the tower to accommodate them all. So that saves you time how?”

Scott Martin, director of broadcast sales for Radio Frequency Systems, counters, saying that the fact that an auxiliary antenna is broadband means multiple stations could have a way to share the antenna.

The company has redesigned an auxiliary broadband antenna it sells in Australia to do just that in the U.S. market, he says.

“If there is any capacity left on the tower at all, one of the advantages of this antenna is it is capable of service as a transitional antenna for more than one station. You can actually combine multiple stations into it and accommodate the pre- and post-transition channels for up to three stations. That would effectively reduce the tower loading by requiring one antenna as opposed to three.”

There are a couple of other caveats, however, when it comes to the two-step tango.  Both involve FCC rules and regulations, says Dielectric’s Martin.

Broadcasters moving to new channel assignments are entitled to reimbursement of qualified expenses incurred as part of the move from the $1.75 billion congressionally authorized relocation fund. However, there appears to be uncertainty about whether an auxiliary antenna used in a two-step transition is a reimbursable expense.

On the one side are people like ERI’s Harland. “The reimbursement funds are supposed to cover any reasonable expense, and if you need to build an auxiliary facility to build out your repacked facility, I would think that would qualify as a reasonable expense,” he says.

On the other side are those like Dielectric’s Martin, who seek clarity from the FCC on the matter. “In the commission’s mind, anybody who currently has a licensed replacement aux antenna can get reimbursements on a replacement aux antenna,” he says. “However, if you don’t have a licensed aux antenna, which is about 100 stations, it’s subject to other terms and conditions, which have not been defined.”

Dielectric’s Martin has another concern as well that he says the FCC must address.

“Typically you have a finite amount of time to get on air with your full service and fill your full contour. If you do not do that, your contour is no longer protected,” says Martin.

However, side-mount antennas in the vast majority of cases will be unable to replicate a station’s current pattern. “So the commission is going to have to grant a type of special temporary authority or a type of guarantee that your contours will be protected for X amount of time till you get that permanent antenna in place,” he says.

It would appear stations may wish to wait to lace up their shoes until after the FCC has cleared the regulatory dance floor of obstacles and they can two-step tango without any hindrances.

Neville Cumming Joins GatesAir

Neville Cumming joins GatesAir as director of key accounts.

Neville Cumming joins GatesAir as director of key accounts.

Neville Cumming has joined GatesAir as director of key accounts, returning to the operation where he formerly worked as Harris Broadcast Strategic sales manager.

In his new role, Cumming will support U.S. broadcast groups during a period in which OTA will undergo substantial changes, including the spectrum repack and a likely transition to ATSC 3.0, the next generation TV broadcast format.

Cumming will report to Joseph Mack, GatesAir VP of sales, Americas.

More information is available on the GatesAir website.


My Top 10 TV Tech Wishes For The New Year

New Year 2015_11-smallWhat would end-of-year writing be without a look to the New Year and the potential it holds?

To be sure, many technical accomplishments have been achieved in the television industry this year, but there is so much more to do.

What follows is my top 10 list of New Year’s wishes for television when it comes to technology. I hope you enjoy.

Happy New Year and good luck in 2016!

No. 1: Repack Rethink. Jay Adrick, a former VP at Harris Broadcast and now an independent consultant, has spent a lot of time over the past few years educating the broadcast industry and anyone else who would listen about the RF-related resources that are actually available to make repacking TV spectrum a reality.

The bottom line — and something that is beginning to be acknowledged at the FCC and Congress — is that the 39-month deadline set by the FCC to perform this demanding dance is essentially impossible to achieve.

A major rethink of the repack is in order when it comes to the deadline, available resources and ultimately its execution. Perhaps lessons from how Sprint-Nextel approached moving ENG infrastructure to seven 12 MHz channels at  2GHz for Broadcast Auxiliary Service use could provide some guidance. That project was executed — more or less — on a regional basis but also required several deadline extensions.

Read On

Osborn Engineering To Tackle Repack For Sutro Tower

Osborn Engineering and Sutro Tower have entered into a service agreement for study and analysis of the FCC DTV spectrum auction and repack as well as what they will mean for broadcasters on the iconic San Francisco tower.

The Widelity Report sponsored by the FCC identified the site as one of its “Super Complicated Sites: Mount Sutro Case Study #4.”

Osborn Engineering will examine the FCC regulations related to the repack, proposed coverage patterns, the possibility of switching some stations to VHF and other equipment reconfiguration considerations.

To learn more, visit the Osborne Engineering website.

Mark Fehlig Joins Osborn Engineering

Mark Fehlig  has joined Osborn Engineering and will be involved with the company's TV spectrum auction and repack-related activities.

Mark Fehlig has joined Osborn Engineering and will be involved with the company’s TV spectrum auction and repack-related activities.

Communications engineer Mark Fehlig has joined Osborn Engineering’s media technology group and will lead initiatives related to FCC DTV spectrum auction and repack and repurposing of facilities.

Fehlig, who has decades of experience at Scientific Atlanta, Harris, Wavestream and Georgia Public Broadcasting, was involved in the early years of developing satellite uplink and DTV video compression technologies.

He also led the transition from analog to digital for both DTV and IBOC FM radio as a PBS Enterprise Technology Advisory Committee, ETAC, member and director of engineering for Georgia Public Broadcasting.