NYC broadcasters search for new home

As broadcasters commemorate the one year anniversary of the terrorist attack that knocked out their analog and digital transmission facilities, ten New York City broadcasters are no closer to finding a permanent home to operate their transmitters than they were soon after the World Trade Center attack on September 11th.

Several proposals for a 2000-foot broadcast tower to serve local New York Broadcasters are being considered. However, a series of governmental permits could create substantial roadblocks to its eventual completion.
Photo credits: Architect, Gregory J. Higgins; Tower Engineer, Geiger Engineers; Artist's rendering: Peter Coe

Offering a glimmer of hope, however, a northern New Jersey municipality has rezoned one parcel of land for a proposed 2,000-foot broadcast tower and plans to rezone another soon.

Still feeling the effects of the September 11th attack, some stations serving the New York metropolitan area are operating at reduced power levels from the Empire State Building, and supplementing that with additional transmitters in Alpine, New Jersey, but over-the-air signal coverage has reportedly been poor.

Desperate to remain on the air, local broadcasters have tried a series of makeshift installations. Thirteen/WNET, a major public broadcaster in New York, for example, has set up temporary digital transmission facilities on the roof of its building on Manhattan’s west side, while others have been reduced to virtually hanging coat wire out the corner window of a top floor on the Empire State Building.

The Jersey City Zoning Board, located across the Hudson River, a few miles southwest of the WTC site, rezoned some land in June to accommodate the new tower (which is still in the preliminary design stages.) It’s hoped that the structure, which would be the world’s tallest if the 2,000-foot proposal is approved, could bring considerable revenue in to the local community where it is located.

Ed Grebow, president of the Metropolitan TV Alliance, that represents the local stations as a group in their effort to find a broadcast home, said that it had requested New York’s Governors Island - both for its close proximity to the former site of the WTC and because it satisfied the FCC and FAA rules for avoiding interference and airplane flight patterns - but the proposal was denied by NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Stating that a number of cities in New Jersey were being considered, Grebow told The Record, a north New Jersey newspaper, “It’s really a horse race at this point. I would say we’re more likely to end up in New Jersey than New York.”

New Jersey politicians, such as Governor James McGreevey, Democratic representative Robert Menendez and state senator Raymond J. Lesniak, are said to be “cooperating” with the MTVA, in the hopes of securing the “world’s tallest structure” distinction for the state. However there are rumors of a taller, 3,000-foot tower being considered in Australia.

The initial proposals for the tower included a restaurant and observation deck, but have since been shelved due to security concerns. Any transmission facility must be located must be located within the 3.2 -mile radius of the WTC site, as per FCC rules to avoid interference with stations in Philadelphia, Pa. and Baltimore, Md., located to the south. However, Grebow said given the unusual circumstances New York broadcasters find themselves in, the commission would be “flexible” in its limitations and that other sites, four or five miles from downtown NYC are also being discussed.

Grebow said that the tower would take approximately two years to build, after they get the necessary permits, which could prove difficult to obtain.

Echoing Jersey City’s enthusiasm for the unique tower project, Mark Munley, director of housing and economic development, told The Record, “By us having zoning in place on a city site, it’s the only place in the metropolitan area where you can build this thing.”

Write us | News Archive | Home