Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Olympics TV failure blamed on transmission distance

NBC’s broadcast was interrupted Sunday night


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Olympics TV failure blamed on transmission distance

Both Cox Communications and KTVB representatives pointed to the distance between transmission stations as the reason that NBC's broadcast of the Winter Olympics was interrupted for about an hour Sunday evening.

Customers called both KTVB, the Boise-based NBC affiliate that airs on Channel 7 for Cox cable subscribers in the Wood River Valley, and to Cox about either losing their picture entirely or intermittently during the broadcast, which included the short program for pairs figure skating and men's moguls.

Doug Armstrong, general manager of KTVB-Boise and KTFT-Twin Falls, said the transmission signal has to travel about 70 miles from Jerome Butte, near Twin Falls, to the top of Bald Mountain, where the Cox receiver stands.

"The transmission signal was not out [at the Jerome Butte station], but it's got to go 70 miles from around 2,500 feet to 9,000 feet," Armstrong said in an interview. "Weather can get in the way, like smoke getting into the beam of a flashlight, so it won't be as strong."

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After a similar problem with NBC's broadcast in January, KTVB and Cox worked together to strengthen the transmission signal, with Cox raising the height of its receiver antenna on Baldy.

"We're right at the edge of KTVB's transmission signal," said Dan Wherry, Cox's director of operations in the Wood River Valley. "We're working well together to resolve the issue and looking at alternatives to improve the signal, but there isn't a single solution we can put in place."

Wherry said the broadcasts of other stations weren't interrupted because they use a different method for transmitting their signals to the valley.

"I don't think it's our fault or Cox's fault," Armstrong said. "Cox is working to put the antenna in the best possible position, but we can't account for weather or acts of God."

Jon Duval: jduval@mtexpress.com




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