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No Room for Delay in Transmitter Installation

Most broadcasters have known the DTV transition was coming and ordered transmitters in time to avoid a crunch as next February nears.

The transmitters are there or are coming, said Jay Adrick, vice president for broadcast technology at Harris Broadcast Communications, at the fall conference of the Association for Maximum Service Television Sept. 22 in Washington. The real shortage may be on the crew side, with little room for error as the schedules get tight this winter.

"We can't afford at this point to have crews scheduled for, say, five days on a site go for seven or eight days," Adrick said. He urged thorough site preparation before crews arrive.

After February, manufacturers and crews will be busy with maximization orders and the circular polarization broadcasters may want as they look to launch mobile DTV.

Don Doty, president of tower installer Stainless LLC, said contractors have very few openings through February 2009. After that, crews will be busy maximizing hundreds of antennas, moving the sidemounted DTV rigs to the tops of towers and removing the analog antennas.

Doty said that broadcasters will probably see a lot of deals on used transmission lines as those analog facilities shut down, but he warned that many flaws in used line are hard to detect.

In addition to having a hard time with schedules, DTV procrastinators may face sticker shock, Doty warned. Copper prices have doubled in the last two years, he said, and steel went up 50 percent just this year.