Another Channel Repacking Won’t Fly for WMTV-TV

MADISON, WIS.: “A viewer 75 miles northwest of Madison reports occasional reception trouble the last few days,” tweeted Tom Weeden, chief engineer of WMTV-TV in Madison, where 18 percent of the TV households rely exclusively on over-the-air reception. Weedon linked the message to tropospheric ducting maps showing the potential for RF interference in the area.

Seventy-five miles is a good signal by any measure, interference or otherwise, especially since the NBC affiliate is broadcasting at 155 kW on Ch. 19. Weedon said they can’t go any higher because of the transmitter’s proximity to Chicago’s WGN-T, about 150 miles away. WGN is also broadcasting on Ch. 19, at 600 kW, according to the latest record on the FCC database.

“Our situation is an argument against packing stations closer together,” Weedon said, referring to the federal plan to reclaim 40 percent of the broadcast TV spectrum and move TV stations into the remaining channel assignments. The nation’s 1,600 or so TV stations just underwent a repacking following the digital transition in which they relinquished 108 MHz of spectrum. The federal government wants another 120 MHz for wireless broadband, leaving TV stations roughly 180 MHz nationwide.

~ Deborah D. McAdams, Television Broadcast