TV stations settle Chesapeake dispute

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In a display of holiday spirit, two Chesapeake Bay TV stations announced Christmas Eve that they have set aside their differences and settled an interference dispute.

A Norfolk, Va., digital-television station has agreed to cut power levels
temporarily in order to eliminate interference caused to a Maryland analog
station operating on the same channel.

Hampton Roads Educational Telecommunications Association Inc., permittee of
channel 16 WHRO-DT in Hampton-Norfolk, Va., will operate at one-quarter of authorized
power during the digital-TV transition.

In return, WBOC-TV Salisbury, Md., will withdraw its objection to WHRO-DT's
license application. In June, WBOC asked the Federal Communications Commission to
cut WHRO's authorized power in order to eliminate interference created when the
public station inaugurated its digital-TV service.

WBOC objected to the grant of WHRO-DT's license application to operate on
channel 16 at its full maximized power of 950 kilowatts. Under the deal, WHRO
will be able to operate at full power on channel 16 when WBOC's analog signal goes
dark and Maryland station switches to digital-only broadcasts on a separate
signal.

The agreement requires the FCC's approval, as well as assurances that both
stations will be able to fully utilize their digital-TV channels post-transition.

The dispute was the most rancorous of several interference problems reported
by analog stations when nearby digital stations began service. So far, all of
the identified conflicts are in areas with large bodies of water. A well-known
phenomenon called "ducting" boosts the range of broadcast signals when
transmission carry over water.

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