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MTVA Puts N.J. Plan On Hold

Renewed NYC tower negotiations are getting serious 5/25/2003 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Recently revived conversations between the New York Metropolitan Television Authority and New York City may soon result in a deal to build a new broadcast tower in Manhattan to replace the World Trade Center tower lost on 9/11.

As of now, the MTVA still has a plan on the books to put the new tower in Bayonne, N.J. But last week, Federal Aviation Administration spokesman Jim Peters said the group asked the FAA to put a review of its New Jersey application on hold.

The FAA had asked several relevant organizations for comments. MTVA President Ed Grebow said one of those groups, the New York Terminal Radar Approach Facility (TRAY), which handles radar operations for the airports in the New York metropolitan area, objected to the placement and design of the tower. Once the MTVA found out about TRAY's concerns, it asked that the review be placed on hold.

Grebow says MTVA is pondering whether to revise the Bayonne plans or continue to work on a deal with New York City—which is what broadcasters have wanted all along. There are active negotiations with the city, he says, and that alone is a big step for the MTVA.

Previous MTVA President Doug Land had a tough time gaining traction with New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg. The mayor was hesitant to allow the construction of a tower on Governors Island, off the southern tip of Manhattan. Eleven months ago, New York broadcasters couldn't even get a meeting with the mayor. Bloomberg seemed concerned with radiation from the tower and even questioned if a tower was necessary in an age of cable and satellite television.

That reluctance, however, was before the depths of New York's current fiscal crisis set the administration into scramble mode in an attempt to find new revenue. After hiking property taxes nearly 19% and creating a program to allow corporate sponsorship of New York City landmarks, getting additional revenue from the MTVA suddenly seems a good idea.

Grebow has gained the traction broadcasters lacked a year ago. If he manages to close the deal, the MTVA will get what it wanted from the beginning: a tower in Manhattan.

One possible site for the tower is atop the new Trade Center site, designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, planned for lower Manhattan.

The importance of the location has little to do with prestige and everything to do with service. New York City broadcasters have said that a tower in Manhattan would best replicate Trade Center coverage areas, ensuring over-the-air service to boroughs like the Bronx or Queens.

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