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Durst Hopes Broadcasters Return to WTC

Broadcaster interest in the new World Trade Center 1 (WTC 1) waned as the cost of building out broadcast infrastructure grew and the economy faltered. That interest could grow again.

In his article World Trade Center Developers Seek to Build Broadcast Antenna, Bloomberg news reporter David M. Levitt reports that the Durst Organization is close to an agreement with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to build and operate a broadcast antenna on top the tower. The Bloomberg report said Durst agreed to spend about $7.4 million to build the antenna and pay another $20 million in "tenanting costs." Durst expects to receive $10 million in revenue from broadcasters using the antenna.

I think it's unlikely the antenna will match the highly optimized stack of multiple antennas designed by the broadcasters' Metropolitan TV Alliance (MTVA), but if the price is right it could offer competition to Empire State Building. Most New York City TV stations are transmitting from Empire, but many stations are still using antennas installed prior to the 2009 DTV transition. As elsewhere, uncertainty over the impact of the National Broadband Plan and repacking after the recently approved spectrum auctions has caused broadcasters to put off investments in new antennas.

Durst's timing is good, as perhaps in five years or so broadcasters will know what their new channels will be, and if they have to move, they'll need a separate transmitter (and most likely and antenna as well) to maintain coverage during the switch. Having an alternate site could be useful.