After technical interference, Oklahoma viewers watch Super Bowl in HD

Following some negotiation and a few consumer complaints because they couldn’t get the big game on their new big-screen televisions, viewers in northwest Oklahoma were able to watch the recent Super Bowl XLII in HD.

The situation arose in late November, after the FCC allowed KOMI-TV, the local ION affiliate and a Class A TV station in Woodward, OK, to increase the ERP of its Axcera digital transmitter from 160W to 15,000W.

This increase caused interference with the local Fox affiliate KOKH-TV, a full-power TV station serving northwest Oklahoma, and even prior to Feb. 3, led to a few disruptions to KOKH’s digital/HD signal for viewers in Alva and Elk City. Instead of the HD channel, KOKH (Fox) viewers could only see Fox programs in analog, and where the Fox HD channel should have been, the syndicated SD programming on KOMI from the Ion Network. A total of six viewers officially complained to the FCC.

The issue was temporarily resolved when, after the FCC asked, KOMI management agreed to turn off its transmitter that Sunday afternoon, allowing area viewers to see the game in HD.

The Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned KOKH is the only Fox HD channel serving residents in northwest Oklahoma. The station uses translators, which operate within KOMI’s FCC-allotted protected contour. So, when KOMI increased its coverage area, it interfered with a few viewers of KOKH, which consequently were not able to see the college football BCS bowl games leading up to Super Bowl Sunday either.

Likewise, the 83 subscribers to the Taloga Cable system, which serves the local community about 35mi southeast of Woodward, could not get the big game in HD; however, they could watch it in analog. Satellite TV subscribers were also able to watch out-of-market Fox stations carrying the games in HD.

KOKH is petitioning the FCC for help because the larger issue of signal interference once stations turn off their analog signals and go digital still has not been resolved. KOKH general manager John Rossi told the local the Oklahoman newspaper that, come Feb. 17, 2009, “those people (in northwest Oklahoma) aren't going to get the signal, period.”