As much of the country is now deep into winter, weather delays and tower rigging crew shortages remain a concern for successful completion of the broadcast repack. Dielectric, along with other broadcast representatives, met with the FCC Incentive Auction Task Force and Media Bureau January 31, to provide an update on repack site completions.
Yesterday, the broadcast antenna and RF systems manufacturer said the agency made it clear during the meeting the Commission will be, “flexible in considering STA applications, and extensions if justified, potentially allowing more stations to use interim antennas to meet phase deadlines,” said Dielectric VP/GM Keith Pelletier.
Although significant repack progress has been made, rigging and other delays are building and Dielectric sees the potential for a domino effect, delaying installations of permanent antennas. “Some of our customers have been forced to place their permanent repack antennas in storage,” said Pelletier. “Stations that fail to vacate their channels in time could prevent stations in future phases from staying on schedule, due to the critical linked changes in the transition plan. We see potential for a serious bottleneck in phases 3 through 6.”
Nearly 143 affected stations moved during phase 1, which ended November 30, 2018, with another 115 phase 2 stations scheduled to move to new channels by April 12. The first phase progressed relatively close to schedule, however, more than 30 stations are now operating under STA approvals. More than 400 more stations must move to new channels in phases 3 through 6 between mid-April and October 18.
More rigging crews are available to install interim antennas, according to the manufacturer. That’s why installing interim antennas could help keep the repack on-track. Importantly, the agency, “has indicated their willingness to approve interim facilities for reimbursement with suitable engineering support,” said Dielectric VP Sales Jay Martin.
Dielectric updated its TV antenna product line in preparation for repack. The company also foresaw the challenges of the industry adhering to a strict transition schedule of 10 phases in 39 months — directly leading to the creation of its TFU-WB Series antenna in 2016. The TFU-WB Series is a flexible, broadband antenna, available in horizontally and elliptically polarized versions. Marketed as a main or auxiliary antenna, the TFU-WB offers an interim side-mounted solution for stations challenged by rigging, permitting or other delays, according to Dielectric. Comments? Email Us.
February 20, 2019