New NYC tower still uncertain

Primary television transmission facility for NYC is once again the top of the Empire State Building.

The Metropolitan Television Alliance (MTVA), a group of New York City television broadcasters are currently looking into building a replacement transmit site just southwest from Manhattan on the island city at the tip of the former Military Ocean Terminal of Bayonne, New Jersey. If built, the $200 million tower would become the world's largest free-standing structure and serve 11 area television stations, in addition to some FM radio stations and emergency communications systems. Rejected in New York, the broadcasters went across the Hudson River to New Jersey hoping for a warmer welcome.

The MTVA currently does not want the structure to include an observation deck. But officials in Jersey City, particularly at the Liberty Science Center, are pushing for the broadcasters to consider putting the tower there and include an observation deck that would attract tourists. It has been reported that the viewing platform would add $40 million to the cost and create a security risk. New Jersey Gov. James E. McGreevey has asked the broadcasters to consider a Jersey City site, which could incorporate the tower into the Liberty Science Center's offerings. The broadcasters submitted the Bayonne site to the Federal Aviation Administration for review of safety issues.

The FAA collected public comment on the Bayonne tower proposal until the first of the year, but on January 16th extended it to February 7th. Ed Grebow, President of the MTVA said that most comments that the FAA received were negative. The agency said that some adjustments to flight paths would have to be made at Newark, LaGuardia and Linden airports if the tower is erected, as it would exceed obstruction standards.

Historic Armstrong tower was the temporary site for a number of NYC broadcasters. It is still an important ENG receive site.

A new platform for the television antennas is not the only challenge facing NYC area broadcasters. Loss of the World Trade Center greatly affected ENG operations in the city. The largest television market in the U.S., NYC is the home to nearly 75 ENG trucks. With the loss of the ENG receive site atop the WTC, the other receive sites had to take up the slack. NYC television news organizations have facilities at the historical Armstrong tower in Alpine, New Jersey, the West Chester site on Long Island, the Citibank Building in Queens, the NBC facility at 30 Rock and the Citicorp building north of the Empire State Building, along with the famous landmark itself.

Even with a half a dozen receive sites spread throughout the region; the Empire State Building (ESB) is often at the receiving end of dozens of separate ENG shots each day. Stephen Ludwig, President of Quicklink Connections, which provides ENG receive facilities at the Empire State Building and other sites for broadcasters and cable networks said that they have handled as many as 13 simultaneous ENG shots at one time into the ESB site. Normal news days can be challenging enough, but NYC is a common destination for broadcasters from around the world. Leo Rosenberg, one of the frequency coordinators noted that many large events require days to accomplish the coordination effort, sighting as an example, the NYC Marathon, which can produce many microwave paths that crisscross the city. As devastating as 9/11 was to the live shot capability of the region, the anniversary of the tragedy was nearly as challenging. Dozens of temporary microwave links were required for the event, with 22 links in the 13 GHz band alone.

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