Broadcasters have just passed the halfway point — at least by one important measure — toward completion of their 2GHz BAS relocation to narrower digital channels used for electronic newsgathering.
According to the latest bimonthly report from Sprint Nextel to the FCC filed earlier this month, 53 percent of broadcasters participating in the relocation have installed the new equipment they have ordered. Additionally, 64 percent of all BAS licensees have received fixed and mobile transmitters, control systems, connectors, cabling, antennas modulators and other equipment required to complete their relocation. Sprint Nextel is funding the 2GHz Broadcast Auxiliary Service relocation project as part of a more elaborate rebanding effort from which it will benefit.
As of the beginning of April, 41 percent of the U.S. population — more than 121 million people — live in areas covered by relocated BAS operations. According to the filing, 13 of the top 30 U.S. markets have finished their relocation, and in the past 60 days, 17 markets have relocated.
In March, broadcasters in Dallas and Denver, the nation’s seventh and 18th largest broadcast markets, respectively, completed their 2GHz BAS relocations. To complete the Dallas relocation required the replacement of equipment in 35 mobile news trucks, four helicopters and at six production studios as well as 26 central and three portable receive sites.
As it’s done in previous progress reports, Sprint Nextel chronicled an example of the unexpected delays that have setback completion of the project. This time the company identified a pair of breeding red-tailed hawks nesting in the studio tower of KSNW-TV in Wichita, KS, as a culprit.
According to the filing, “the birds’ sharp beaks and long curved talons caused considerable concern for the tower crew.” Rather than risking a hawk attack hundreds of feet off the ground, the tower crew delayed its installation work for four days to make sure the birds had left their nest and were not guarding eggs or hatchlings.
“While this delay was not significant relative to the BAS relocation project as a whole, the additional time required demonstrates the unavoidable, real-world conditions that continue to challenge, and in some cases, delay the overall BAS transition,” the filing said.