Fraser Valley TV translator, district asks, what do we do next?
April 5, 2012
FRASER – Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District’s board commissioned a community-based committee to look at the TV translator system, according to Scott Ledin, director of Parks and Recreation.
The hope, he said, is to engage system users to be part of the committee to make a recommendation for the future of television service in the district.
Ledin invited 15 people to join the committee, there are now six members. The goals of the committee are to research digital system upgrades and associated costs, and research community broadband options.
More than 50 people attended the public meeting on Tuesday, April 3, to discuss the direction the district should go regarding the TV translator.
Ledin gave a presentation of the history of the program and the cost of a potential digital upgrade. He assured everyone at the start that the current system is not going away.
The system was down for eight days during the last week of March, he said. The translator sits at the top of Mary Jane at Winter Park Resort. Winter Park Resort employee, Scotty Brent, helped troubleshoot the problem and brought the system down the mountain for repair in Denver. It was fixed in two days, then re-installed. Then, they had problems with Dish Network and called a tech from Denver. The system was up and running as of Thursday, March 29. The cost will easily total more than $1,000, Ledin said.
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Ledin admits the system is challenging due to local and staff expertise, and the logistics of the system.
It is also a challenge to record how many people access the system. Ledin’s best guess is there are 75-100 users.
“There are people who don’t even know we offer this, although we have it on our website and have had multiple meetings. However, not everyone can use it because of (lack of a direct line of sight). We are proving a free broadcast.”
Ledin wants to give this project the best level of service, however he needs direction from the board, he said.
“The board will decide how we continue,” he said. “If the FCC says all channels are going digital and if the board says there are enough users, we may invest capital to make it available to all users.”
Ledin presented the bid for a digital upgrade. The cost estimate was $74,915 for five channels. They could potentially apply for a grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for up to $20,000 to help with the cost.
Another option is to use streaming technology, but bandwidth woud be needed, according to Mike Turner, owner of Channel 18 and committee a member who uses streaming technology to broadcasts his channel over the Internet. “This is where broadband is needed. There is a lot more technology to get TV in another way. We just have to change our thinking,” said Turner.
Martin Woros, Grand County Director of Information System spoke at the meeting and the conversation moved from the TV translator to community communication and the potential for community broadband.
The goal of Tuesday’s information meeting was to find more committee members to help make a recommendation to the board.
The group determined that there needs to be more analysis and discussion before making a recommendation, said Ledin. The committee will reconvene after spring break and will communicate via email and the website about meeting dates.
The current cost of the Dish Network commercial satellite service is $35 per month. To date, the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District has invested $250,000 in the TV translator equipment and service.
According to the FCC, all low power stations will go digital by September 2015.
“We want to approach this with the same level of service we offer other programs; it’s just a bit more challenging,” Ledin said.