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The article notes that maintaining the network of 27 translators isn't easy, due to outdated equipment and "complying with ever-changing federal licensing requirements."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

Doug Lung is one of America's foremost authorities on broadcast RF technology. As vice president of Broadcast Technology for NBCUniversal Local, H. Douglas Lung leads NBC and Telemundo-owned stations’ RF and transmission affairs, including microwave, radars, satellite uplinks, and FCC technical filings. Beginning his career in 1976 at KSCI in Los Angeles, Lung has nearly 50 years of experience in broadcast television engineering. Beginning in 1985, he led the engineering department for what was to become the Telemundo network and station group, assisting in the design, construction and installation of the company’s broadcast and cable facilities. Other projects include work on the launch of Hawaii’s first UHF TV station, the rollout and testing of the ATSC mobile-handheld standard, and software development related to the incentive auction TV spectrum repack.
A longtime columnist for TV Technology, Doug is also a regular contributor to IEEE Broadcast Technology. He is the recipient of the 2023 NAB Television Engineering Award. He also received a Tech Leadership Award from TV Tech publisher Future plc in 2021 and is a member of the IEEE Broadcast Technology Society and the Society of Broadcast Engineers.