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Educational Broadcasting Authority Approves Translator Plan

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Because of previous and expected state budget cuts, as well as changes in viewing habits and technology, the Educational Broadcasting Authority has approved a plan to reduce over-the-air delivery via five of West Virginia Public Broadcasting's most expensive TV translators.

These translators are NOT to be confused with our three much larger transmitters in Morgantown, Beckley and Huntington-Charleston, which will continue to operate. These translators are much smaller, weaker antennas that usually serve a few hundred regular viewers each.

Technology is changing. People are watching videos in new ways -- and increasingly fewer people are watching over a TV antenna.

When they were built, these translators were the only way for people to receive us in communities away from our three main transmitters. They “fed” the signal to cable and satellite providers, which reached thousands more.

But in the last three years, we have worked with cable companies to feed them our channels using fiber optic connections, so these translators are much less important to reaching our audience. And and an increasing number of viewers are accessing our content on the Internet.

Because of West Virginia's mountains, over-the-air viewing is very limited. We estimate only about 5 percent of our viewers watch us using antennas, and most of those viewers will continue to be served by the three large transmitters in Huntington-Charleston, Morgantown and Beckley.

We estimate these actions will save us a total of $150,000 a year.

Our board, the Educational Broadcasting Authority, has approved our plan to apply to the FCC for permission to “go silent” at these translators for one year, after which time, our board will have to decide whether to relinquish these licenses permanently.

We understand that people who rely on over-the-air transmission will be disappointed by this decision. After losing more than $1 million in state funding during the past three years, we believe this is a responsible and necessary decision that maintains public television service to the vast majority of our customers over our three transmitters, cable, satellite and the Internet.

Please feel free to contact me at sfinn@wvpublic.org with any concerns or comments.

Here is a list of the translators that are being shut off. WVPB is still available in these communities via cable, satellite and wvpublic.org. All are channel 24:

call sign                 Location              

W07DN-D            Wardensville

W09CT-D             Mathias

W30CO-D            Wheeling

W41AO                 Hampshire County

W08EE-D            Martinsburg

There are five other TV translators that we plan to keep on the air, for now, for the following reasons:

Flatwoods – no significant ongoing costs

Welch – no significant ongoing costs

Parkersburg – minimal ongoing costs and located on existing FM tower

Keyser – still feeds two small cable operators, we receive income from tower rental

Romney – still feeds a cable system serving area families

With these remaining TV translators, we'd be switching their maintenance to low priority.


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