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Montana Translators in Jeopardy


It isn't easy providing free off-air TV in Montana. An article in the Billings Gazette, Billings stations working to maintain free TV Park County decision leaves TV signals in transition outlines the problems operators in Montana are having maintaining their translator networks.

Last year the Park County commissioners decided to phase out support for a network of county-owned TV translators. Last week the commissioners said two translators serving parts of Park County would go dark this week. Station managers at KULR and KTVQ in Billings said their long term goal is to keep free TV available across the broadcast area and they are working on short-term plans to maintain signals from the two translators.

"We're spending so much time and money on it now, it's making our heads hurt," said Mike Conners, chief information officer for the county. "For me, it's just translators every day. I'm not getting anything else done."

The article notes that maintaining the network of 27 translators isn't easy, due to outdated equipment and "complying with ever-changing federal licensing requirements." These challenges are what led the commissioners to decide to stop supporting the network.

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. He has been with NBC since 1985 and is currently vice president of broadcast technology for NBC/Telemundo stations.