Is Radio Fully In Sync On TV Spectrum Repack?


Did you know that the TV Spectrum Repack could lead to signal interference for any radio station that shares the same tower as a UHF or VHF channel?

If not, there will be plenty of opportunity to get the lowdown on how this could impact your station(s) at the 2016 Radio Show, which opens tomorrow (Sept. 21) at the Omni Nashville Hotel in Music City USA.

“We recommend that radio broadcasters communicate with the TV broadcasters that share their tower site to get a good understanding of their RF plans,” said Keith Pelletier, VP/GM of Raymond, Maine-based Dielectric, a broadcast solutions specialist wholly owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group.

Representatives from Dielectric will be at Booth 11 of the exhibitor hall, immediately to the right of the entrance and adjacent to the registration area.

The company is known for low- and high-power broadband FM and HD Radio antennas, RF systems, and transmission lines.

According to Pelletier, a side-mounted, circularly polarized broadband ring antennas can be quickly deployed to provide reliable, uninterrupted FM radio transmission, in the event RF interference from an adjacent TV signal appears.

“This allows radio broadcasters to shift their operations to temporary antennas while adjacent TV broadcasters retrofit their equipment for new DTV channel assignments,” the company said.

Roughly 1,200 shared TV/radio tower sites house more than 2,350 FM stations, all of which face potential disruption of over-the-air service as DTV stations move to lower UHF channels. The TV Spectrum Repack is expected to take about 39 months, ending in 2019.

In Dielectric’s view, it could take up to six years “due to the limited availability of qualified TV tower crews and specialized equipment that every TV station needs.”

During this time, TV broadcasters that typically command the top-mounted position on the towers will need to establish a temporary antenna to accommodate their new channel frequency. This often requires the installation of a side-mount antenna that best replicates the coverage they had in the top-mounted position.

“Compared to big panel FM antennas, ring-style antennas are easier to install, manufacture and deploy, and qualified tower crews can get them up in days rather than weeks,” Pelletier said. “They integrate a single row of radiators that reduce the complexity and offer long-term savings, which makes them a very economical alternative to conventional side mounted panel antennas.”

Dielectric has invested heavily in the development of antenna and RF solutions for FM broadcasters. On the filtering side, Dielectric’s new Manifold Combiner offers a solution for any RF facility feeding a master antenna that combines four or more signals.

Dielectric engineer Derek Small will be on hand in Nashville to discuss viable strategies with radio broadcasters to help them deal with possible challenges posed by the TV Spectrum Repack.

Pelletier noted, “[Radio stations] should also consider conducting a coverage study to understand how their coverage patterns may shift relative to changes in tower position. Antenna systems planning software can help broadcasters and their RF consultants build a model to simulate how a shift in azimuth pattern could impact their overall coverage, saving them valuable time in the ramp-up to the TV Spectrum Repack.”