WPVI Gets Power Boost From FCC

Special authority aimed at fixing DTV reception problems

ABC-owned WPVI Philadelphia, which has experienced significant reception problems since launching digital TV (DTV) broadcasts on VHF Ch.6 on June 12, has received some immediate help from the FCC.

The FCC granted the station a special temporary authority (STA) to boost its transmission power on Ch. 6 from the relatively low 7.5 kilowatts (kW) to 30.6 kW, the maximum power for the northeastern “Zone 1” region of the U.S. The power boost is intended, in particular, to make WPVI’s VHF signal penetrate better into urban homes that have experienced difficulty in receiving the station on indoor antennas.

WPVI received the STA Friday, and slowly increased its power through the weekend. The station is encouraging viewers to give feedback on whether the power boost has solved their reception problems, and has already received some initial emails from viewers who have found an improvement, says program director Caroline Welch. She adds that the FCC and its local Philadelphia representative Dave Dombrowski have been very attentive to WPVI’s concerns over the effectiveness of its DTV signal.

“The FCC has been really helpful, to get this moving as quickly as possible,” says Welch.

WPVI had to help itself, too. It got FCC approval after it struck a deal with two nearby stations who had to agree with the power boost, according to an FCC spokesman. Those stations were WEDY New Haven,  Conn., and WRGB Schenectady. Stations making such deals can agree to accept the increased interference from the power boost or increase their power to compensate, then the FCC must approve the solution.

The WPVI STA expires in six months, though it could also become permanent.

Also getting a temporary power boost was CBS-owned WJZ Baltimore, which is looking for some help until its new antenna arrives in a few weeks, according to the FCC. WJZ had already told the FCC it would not be ready to transmit at full power on June 12, but wound up asking for more power in the interim and striking a deal with one other station in the market, said the commission.

John Eggerton contributed to this report.