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KTVU Digital Translator Plan Draws Fire

KTVU television, the Fox affiliate for the San Francisco/Oakland Calif. market has come under protest from an area low power broadcaster over its recent application for a "replacement" DTV translator.

The Cox-owned station has applied for a construction permit for a digital translator operating on Channel 42 for the stated purpose of filling in station coverage gaps after the ending its analog operations.

On June 3, 2009, only days after the KTVU translator filing was made public, Broadland Properties, LLC, licensee of KAXT-LD, a low power television operation licensed to Santa Clara/San Jose, Calif., filed a petition to deny the grant of the translator, charging that the requested translator would not "fulfill the only purpose for which a replacement digital translator may be authorized."

The "petition to deny" stated that the proposed translator would serve more than a de minimis area beyond the station���s protected coverage area and would also interfere with an earlier application by Broadland for the same channel in a plan to improve KAXT-LD’s facilities.

(The Channel 42 slot is being vacated by KTNC-TV in Concord, Calif. as a result of the digital transition.)

In the petition, Broadland stated that it had already made plans to launch a multistream television operation on Channel 42 on June13 to provide television service to previously underserved area populations, including Vietnamese, Hispanic, South Asian, African-American and other groups.

Broadland charged KTVU with seeking the Channel 42 assignment as "a bald attempt to stop KAXT-LD from providing service to the public and/or an attempt to re-capture the analog channel being relinquished by Station KTNC-TV, [in] Concord, CA before anyone else can touch the channel."

Broadland’s petition stated that "the minority community is already up in arms and plans to make its views loudly known to government officials at all levels" and that "there is absolutely no need or justification for wreaking this kind of havoc on the minority community just to provide KTVU’s Fox network service to a very small number of households, particularly when there are other ways to accomplish that objective."

The petition asserted that KTVU’s proposed DTV translator would not eliminate the lost analog coverage and that better ways existed for filling the gap, including reliance on signals from KCBA, the Fox affiliate in Salinas, Calif. and the addition of Fox programming to the second digital stream of a San Jose, Calif. station.

KTVU has not offered any official comment on the Broadland petition.