Transmitter for Sale

When I first started working at the radio station (1972), we were required to take transmitter readings every 15 minutes. Keeping the transmitter on was the number one –and obvious– priority. And I guess that’s still true for radio stations today. No transmitter…no radio. But not for TV.

On Monday we noticed we were not receiving the local ABC affiliate. Just static. We watch very little network TV these days but still try to catch Peter Jennings and we’re hanging in for the final season of NYPD Blue. So I called the TV station and asked the lady who answered the phone what was going on.

“One of our transmitter tubes went out over the weekend but you can get us on the cable,” she explained.

“I don’t have cable,” I infomed her.

“So, how do you watch us?”

“I have an antenna.”

“Oh. Well, we should have the transmitter working again by the end of the week.”

This struck me as something of a revelation. The TV station wasn’t concerned that their trasmitter was down. The “signal” (content) was getting out via cable. I wanted to ask her about the rural viewers that don’t have cable but there aren’t enough of us to pose a problem.

I started wondering what does the local TV station add to the content mix? Their local newscast. Local weather. Bunch of local commercials. It just feels like those local affiliates are becoming less important every day.

All of this reminded me of ABC Now, the network’s effort to deliver content by non-traditional means. How much would I pay to be able to download World News Tonight directly from the network? Or NYPD Blue? I’m already doing this with XM and it works just fine, thank you.

In conclusion, I guess I’m no more concerned about the TV station transmitter being dark than they are.

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