TV Towers Collapse

December 18, 2007
Heavy ice and high winds took down two TV towers near Scranton, Pa. over the weekend.

WNEP’s 800-footer came down around 7 a.m. Sunday morning, damaging the station’s transmitter facility, according to local media reports. A similar-sized tower used by WVIA, a PBS member station in the Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, was snapped in two by the brutal weather conditions. Both towers are located on the high terrain of Penobscot Mountain, home of a local tower farm.

The collapse took out the analog Channel 16 signal of WNEP, the local ABC affiliate owned by Local TV. The station’s digital service on Channel 49, transmitted from a different tower, went dark due to a power disruption, but it was restored by late Sunday. Cable and satellite providers had picked up the digital feed by Monday. President and General Manager Lou Kirchen said on the station’s Web site that around 90 percent of WNEP’s audience receives the signal via cable or satellite. The local newspaper, the Times-Tribune, estimated that about 59,000 “customers” in the area relied on the analog broadcast signal.

Joseph Glynn, vice president of engineering for WVIA, told the newspaper that about five inches of ice had accumulated on the upper portions of the towers. The same report indicated that other local stations had intermittent black-outs, including WBRE, the local NBC affiliate. It said WBRE’s transmitter facility sustained a severed power line during the collapse of the other towers.

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