New York City Tower Woes

It's been ten months since the Twin Towers were toppled by terrorists, bringing most of New York City's television antenna and transmission systems with them. But many residents without cable or satellite are still having trouble getting decent signals. To that end, the Metropolitan Television Alliance (MTVA), a coalition of New York City area broadcasting stations, was formed to find a site for the new TV tower to replace the one destroyed in the attacks. The front runner for this site is Governors Island, a small piece of land just off the southern tip of Manhattan. After being its landlord for over 200 years, the federal government plans to sell it back to New York City for a nominal fee. According to the MTVA, the site is perfect for the new tower: it's in a range free from signal disturbances from other television markets, it's close to the old site, and not in the middle of a densely-populated residential area. Too bad New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg could care less.

Bloomberg would like to see Governors Island become a satellite site for the City University of New York and has been pretty adamant about keeping broadcasters out of the area. He has suggested that broadcasters look into using several separate smaller tower sites located throughout the city as opposed to just one large system. Ed Grebow, the newly-elected president of the MTVA (and former deputy president of Sony Electronics), says the key to winning Governors Island is educating Bloomberg on how over-the-air television serves the public. ãI do think we need to show the Mayor, number one, that it's not just the broadcasters who would use the new tower,ä he said. ãThe fire and police department, the FBI, the Secret Service, FM radio stations, were using the destroyed tower and will be on the new one.ä

Still, Grebow conceded that this would be a tough sell, and the MTVA needed to keep its options open. It is looking at several sites in New Jersey and also has its eyes on some sites in Brooklyn and Queens. One major front-runner is the Liberty Science Center in Jersey City, NJ. Grebow said New Jersey Governor James McGreevey was very receptive to this idea, but the MTVA has been hesitant about it because New Jersey wants to make the site into a tourist attraction. Grebow said he is concerned that this could be a security issue.