WVUE moves a step closer to ending DTV reception woes

Relief for WVUE, the Louisiana Media Company-owned FOX affiliate in New Orleans, LA, which initially was barraged by thousands of calls from viewers who couldn’t receive its DTV signal on its post transition Channel 8 assignment, appears to be on the way.

Last week, the FCC issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that ultimately may allow the station to move back to its pre-transition UHF channel assignment on Channel 29 on a full-time basis. If, after the NPRM comment period, the commission allows the channel change, WVUE will raise its antenna 50ft, increase gain and begin transmitting at 850kw ERP, said station director of engineering Al Domescik.

Many viewers throughout the market have had trouble receiving Channel 8 since WVUE relocated from its temporary DTV Channel 29 assignment broadcasting at 660kw ERP to what was supposed to be its post-transition assignment with 14.6kw ERP on Dec. 22, 2008, said Domescik.

“It’s been crazy,” said Domescik. “We’ve literally fielded thousands of phone calls. We’ve run stories in newscasts trying to help people. We even bought rabbit ear antennas and had some engineers go to people’s houses and try to install the antennas, but it was too big of a monster. We just couldn’t do it.”

Even the FCC field office in New Orleans had trouble receiving WVUE’s DTV Channel 8 signal, he added.

According to Domescik, boosting power on Channel 8 was not an acceptable solution because of the likely adjacent channel interference that would cause to WAFB-TV, Channel 9, in Baton Rouge.

“The only way to increase power (on Channel 8) would be to notch out a section going towards Baton Rouge, which is towards our city of license. We didn’t want to do that,” he said.

Currently, WVUE is simulcasting its DTV signal on Channel 8 and on Channel 29 under experimental special temporary authority (STA) from the FCC. While Domescik looks forward to receiving permission to move the station’s final DTV assignment back to Channel 29 and discontinue transmitting on Channel 8, doing so is likely to cause another round of viewer confusion, he said. But dealing with that will be well worth the effort if doing so is the final chapter in the station’s DTV reception woes, he said.

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.