McKinnon Broadcasting filed recently to construct new low power digital TV transmitters in three Southern California markets new to the station.
The applications include a 15kW channel 40 in El Centro, a 2kW channel 44 serving Santa Barbara, and a 5kW channel 26 serving Palm Springs.
FCC records show that two other groups have applied for channel 44 in Santa Barbara, and the FCC granted Gulf-California group in 2007 a construction permit for KCWQ-LD on channel 26 in Palm Springs.
KUSI already operates a channel 12 translator, K12PO, serving the Temecula area of Riverside County. They have an application to upgrade the site to digital.
Director of Engineering Richard Large said, “With the FCC opening up a window to file for Digital LPTV and translators, [the filing] was a new opportunity to expand our KUSINEWS coverage.”
It’s about the rabbit ears, really. We’ve all been in one of those homes where they are watching your station on a pair of metal rods sticking up from the TV, and what you see on the screen is a little video and lots of random noise. And when you took away their analog signal, you suddenly took away the ability of the cheapskate to get free TV. That’s because what was left was not enough signal to make a digital picture even on a generation six converter box.
When it calculated power limits for replacement DTV stations, the FCC wanted to duplicate the coverage areas of analog stations. On paper, it did so pretty well. And it works for viewers with modest outdoor antennas. Most over-the-air viewers with older antennas saw their good analog pictures replaced by crisp new digital pictures.
What the FCC overlooked is the TV audience out there with substandard antennas getting substandard analog signals. When the DTV transition happened, these viewers were left at the bottom of the digital cliff with no pictures at all.
Power to the People
KFMB and KGTV require approximately 15kW ERP to duplicate their analog audience using digital according to parameters originally set-up by the FCC and documented by Hammett and Edison under contract. KGTV signed on this year with 20.7kW ERP. KFMB originally applied for an increase in power on channel 8 digital after their February transition and received approval in mid-July to run with 19.8kW ERP. They adjusted their transmitter without any need for changes to hardware.
The approximate 20kW figure was reached based on calculated adjacent channel protection for Los Angeles stations. As it is, the increase will barely be noticed since it’s just over 1dB. Whether future increases can be planned depends on national trends and more importantly, what happens in LA. Both stations want to increase power.
KFMB’s Director of Engineering, Rich Lochmann, says their current equipment will allow them to get up to 87kW, but they would ultimately like to go to 160kW.
Rich says, “The key words are ‘location, location, location’ and ‘antenna, antenna, antenna’. People just can’t get away with the cheapie passive antennas. With analog they would watch anything even if it was snowy or ghosty but with digital it’s there or not there. They don’t understand that nor like it.”
Ham Radio Outlet Store Manager Tom McDuffie of Carlsbad suffered a stroke Friday, July 11 while driving on local state route 52. He died the following Monday at Sharp Hospital in Kearny Mesa.
According to his wife Susan, he was able to pull to the side of the road then lost consciousness. CHP found him in the vehicle a few hours later and had to break the window to get in.
Tom was taken to Sharp Hospital in Kearny Mesa, where he was admitted unconscious to the Intensive Care Unit.
Memorial services will be held on July 23, 2009 at 12:00 (noon) at El Camino Memorial Park, 5600 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego 92121. From I-805, take Mira Mesa Boulevard east one block to Scranton Road, then right to Carroll Canyon, then left to 5600.
Tom, ham callsign KM6K, had managed the San Diego HRO store since 1979. The store has served as a source of broadcast RF supplies. He was a car enthusiast as well.
KNSD signed its analog channel 39 transmitter off June 26, the last of the full-power analog stations in San Diego to do so. KNSD had provided a nightlight service to viewers since the official June 12 cutoff date. In Los Angeles, KCBS channel 2 finally shutdown its nightlight service July 12.
Stations that turned off their analog transmitters reported no other major problems. KUSI now suffers the same co-channel interference on channel 18 from Los Angeles that XETV has put up with on 23, so North County viewers must be instructed to either improve their antenna systems for greater front-to-back ratios or revert to cable or satellite. KPBS shutdown channel 15 without incident.
Channel 69 analog fired up again, if temporarily. International Communications Network, the people who brought you K61GH, were kicked off 61 by a spectrum auction. They got relief on channel 9, but told the FCC their signal suffered greatly due to adjacent channel interference from incumbents KFMB 8 and KGTV 10. Going digital on 9 from Kearny Mesa didn’t help. So the FCC granted them an STA and K69JC callsign to operate from Mt. San Miguel until September 9 this year. ICN has filed for a permanent home at channel 50, and say they are awaiting spectrum coordination results from Mexico.
Over-the-air viewers of Mt. San Miguel DTV stations needed to rescan their tuners in order to continue watching KUSI or KDTF after Wednesday, June 18. KUSI changed its virtual channel number to match its physical channel 18 June 12 during the analog shutdown. But McKinnon Broadcasting VP of Engineering Richard Large said that he learned in discussions with Gordon Godfrey at the FCC that they must keep the analog channel 51 number as their VCT Main_Channel_Number, even after the analog transmitter is shutdown. The ATSC standard does state that the digital MCN must relate to the analog channel, and the FCC has reinforced the requirement to continue the identification through the DTV transition, presumably as an additional measure to keep viewer confusion to a minimum.
KUSI had changed the number in order to allow Entravision to use 51 as its virtual channel number after it obtained a special temporary authorization to operate KDTF on channel 51 as a low power DTV station. KDTF had been on channel 36 on Mt. San Miguel, but signed on Saturday, June 13 as a dual DTV outlet with Telefutura on its primary and KBNT on its secondary subchannel. KDTF is the first low power digital station in San Diego County. KDTF-LD has renumbered its virtual channel to 36 while remaining on physical channel 51.
XHDTV Channel 49 Tecate and XETV channel 6 Tijuana continue with their analog English language services from Mexico. Low power English language UCSD-TV’s K35DG is still on from Mt. Soledad. KBOP-CA 43 beams informercials from Mt. San Miguel.
For all of southern California, from Santa Barbara to Palm Springs and south to the Mexican border, the moment of reckoning is here. This Saturday, June 6, 2009, the 2 GHz ENG band reduces in size by 35 MHz and TV stations begin using digital modes to reduce their bandwidth to 12 MHz per channel.This will give Sprint Communications valuable new spectrum for operating future generation PCS devices. They’ve been required to reimburse local stations for the replacement of all incumbent analog gear, including more linear front-end amplifiers, receivers, control devices, mobile transmitters, and training. The ultimate cost is likely to be beyond the company’s wildest estimates.
Regional independent liaison organizer Chris Neuman said Tuesday morning that he sees no remaining obstacles to the cutover this weekend. Other than some remote camera-transmitter locations, all ENG transmissions are ready. He said that Saturday he will conduct with Sprint conference calls to check on status of the switchover.
For most stations, the conversion is a simple matter of loading or switching to new bandplans in the remote site slave units in their market and making test shots.
The conversion kickoff occurred here in May of 2005. Yuma-El Centro was the first market in the US to make the transition in September of 2006. Due to its enormous number of participants, the southern coastal California region has taken much longer to finish.