What transmitter upgrades mean for abc27 viewers


A crew works on abc27’s transmitter

ENOLA, Pa. (WHTM) — Viewers can watch abc27 online, via cable, via satellite, or via antenna. Those who watch the station with antennas may have noticed some changes since abc27’s transmitter was upgraded at the end of last month.

The transmitter is located on a mountain in Enola, Cumberland County. The signal for abc27’s channels (27.1 is abc27 News, 27.2 is ION, 27.3 is Dabl, and 27.4 is Laff) is sent out from that transmitter and can be received for free by antennas in the station’s market, explained abc27 Chief Engineer Keith Blaisdell.

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“That’s what the transmitter does — it takes everything we do, for example, here at our news operation, and it transmits it wirelessly so that anyone with a TV with an antenna, they can pick us up,” Blaisdell summarized.

On Oct. 24, a crew climbed up the transmitter to make some adjustments that strengthened the signal of the 27 channels for viewers east of the tower and nearly doubled the signal’s power.

A crew works on abc27’s transmitter

In 2004, abc27 began transmitting a digital signal in addition to the older analog signal. The digital signal allows for better quality visuals and audio, but the challenge was that another TV station in Philadelphia was broadcasting its analog signal on the same frequency as abc27’s digital signal.

To avoid interfering with the Philadelphia station, “we put an antenna that was directional on our tower, and it was turned away from the east,” Blaisdell explained.

Unfortunately, a lot of abc27’s viewers sit to the east of the tower in Dauphin, York, Lancaster, and Lebanon counties, and they may have had trouble getting channel 27 programming via their TV antennas.

In 2009, most analog signals went off the air after stations transitioned completely to digital, Blaisdell said. That opened up abc27’s digital frequency, as the analog signal from the Philadelphia station was no longer using it.

After coordinating with the Federal Communications Commission and ensuring that any changes to abc27’s transmitter would not impact other stations in other markets, a team went out and rotated abc27’s antenna so that it now transmits the bulk of the signal to the east (although viewers to the west should still be able to get the signal, too). At the same time, the signal power was boosted from 16.2 kilowatts to 28.1 kilowatts.

“Which means that someone, for example, to the east of the tower…either they couldn’t get us by antenna unless they had a really good antenna, or they would get us and it would kind of pixelate and break up. Now, increasing the power and turning the antenna to the east, they have a much better chance of getting a great picture,” Blaisdell said.

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