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Digital Interference

Editor: Your editorial "Power Struggle"
[June 17] was a much needed morale boost. We regret that WBOC-TV's circumstances have forced us to request relief from the digital station of WHRO-TV Hampton Roads, Va., in the FCC's "court," but the feedback we are receiving from our viewers and cable providers quite frankly has us very concerned. There are times during the evening and early morning hours when one of our primary cable providers receives significant interference at their cable headend, which is located at the edge of our city and Grade A contour.

We do not believe that a station can serve its viewers or the public interest in the manner conceived by the FCC when faced with the level of interference WBOC-TV is experiencing throughout its licensed service area. Our situation is due to propagation effects caused by our geographic surroundings (which the FCC's computer program does not model when calculating interference) and is compounded by WHRO-TV's maximization of facilities from an original allocation of 113.5 kW to 950 kW.

In the long run, the real loser is the local viewer. How do you attempt to explain these technical issues to people whose only concern is that they are unable to view their local evening or morning newscasts? We can only ask all the parties involved to examine the issues, the impact this situation has upon local viewers, and then act accordingly.

The editorial questions the mentality that digital television should roll forward whatever the costs—that theoretical predictions should trump concerns about real-world service. Congress's enactment of legislation last week to protect against interference in the ch. 52-69 relocation process is further vindication of the importance of the public's television service. We hope that the same concern for the public's local television service is brought to bear as the FCC considers the service losses WBOC-TV's viewers now are experiencing. —Thomas Draper, president and owner, and Rick Jordan, vice president and assistant GM, WBOC-TV Salisbury, Md.

Talking of Towers

Editor: Mayor Bloomberg has it right, and the broadcasters have it wrong ["Outta Here," June 24]. As the mayor is reported to have said in your article, "there are other solutions: You could have smaller towers located in different directions from the central city." He is exactly right.

In this modern day, the idea of monstrous, centrally located broadcast antennas to service 20% (a number rapidly falling in NYC) of the population with an inferior broadcast modulation like 8-VSB would seem like a bad idea. We have had major disasters involving three such towers in the last few years that have caused major disruptions: Moscow, New York City and a station in Texas.

Why are the [New York] TV executives not taking advantage of COFDM digital transmission and modern single-frequency network capability? Co-locating their transmitters on a series of smaller towers around the city would give much better coverage than one large tower and would guarantee against a disaster such as 9/11 taking out over-the-air broadcasting.

If broadcasters had chosen COFDM rather than 8-VSB for digital transmission, they also would be able to provide mobile services, which are especially important in emergencies. We demonstrated the mobile capability using COFDM last fall to the Department of Defense and the Federal Emergency Management Administration at Ground Zero.

Until COFDM is allowed in the U.S., I fervently hope that the broadcasters' wish to build a monstrous tower anywhere near Manhattan fails. Mayor Bloomberg, stick to your correct understanding of modern broadcasting, and maybe the FCC will come around. In fact, I would hope that the mayor would take up this problem with the FCC and ask for authorization to use COFDM in New York.

8-VSB is truly a total disaster in the city.

With 8-VSB, the mayor is right: "Broadcasting is less important"; it is irrelevant. —Bob Miller, Viacel Corp., New York City

Editor: In opposing the construction of a broadcast tower on the planned campus of the City University of New York on Governors Island ["Outta Here," June 24], Mayor Bloomberg is ignoring the educational opportunity.

Does anyone remember when WQXR was W2XR, an experimental AM station operated by electrical engineering students? They played classical music because the records ran longer and thus had to be changed less frequently. By the time the station was acquired by the New York Times Co. and went commercial, the music had built a large, loyal audience.

Now here's a remarkable opportunity for a college campus to have transmitters and antennas for 10 major television stations and their DTV companion facilities and 15 FM stations. Think of the potential for interning and mentoring and close-up observation of modern broadcast technology at work and technological change in progress.

Students interested in the field will be lining up at the docks. They'll become among the most in-demand graduates. —Thomas D. Bratter, Los Angeles