TV beams back into N.Y.

Collapse of WTC transmitter affected 22% of Gotham viewers

NEW YORK — It took many of them as long as eight days, but the local stations here are finally beginning to get their signals out to the New Yorkers who rely exclusively on over-the-air broadcasting for their TV viewing.

All of the six commercial VHF TV stations except WCBS got knocked off the air on Sept. 11 when two jetliners hijacked by terrorists plowed into the World Trade Center. WCBS instantly switched to a backup transmitter on the roof of the Empire State Building, a facility not available right away to the station’s competitors.

The terrorist attack affected only the 22% of TV viewers in the New York area who don’t subscribe to cable and don’t own a satellite dish. For the most part, cable and satellite subscribers continued to get the programming from all of the TV stations and cable networks, which were unaffected by the terrorist attack.

Immediately after the destruction of the World Trade Center, WNBC, WABC and WPIX got busy making deals with other over-the-air TV stations. WNBC engineered agreements with WLIW channel 21, the Long Island public TV station; WMBC channel 63, a New Jersey public TV station; and with an independent TV station using the channel 26 dial position.

Nick Frazer, program manager for WLIW channel 21, said he and his staff were cutting between WNBC and the public-TV feed, often switching to the BBC World News’ coverage of the attacks on New York and Washington.

WABC worked out deals with WNYE channel 25, a New York public TV station, and the 24-hour home-shopping TV station on channel 68.

WPIX got permission from the Federal Communications Commission to begin broadcasting on channel 64, the low-power station WPIX had agreed earlier to relinquish, as of Sept. 15.

Sources say no money changed hands with these deals because the public and indie stations were happy to get access to WNBC, WABC and WPIX, all three of which were broadcasting 24 hours a day of news on the tragedy and its aftermath. Bill Beam, director of engineering for WABC, said some of these borrowed signals picked up additional viewers due to the WABC coverage.

An official with WNYW, the Fox-owned TV station in New York, said he rejected out of hand the demand of one UHF station for cash in exchange for giving WNYW access to its signal.

As local TV stations start getting back to their normal schedules, WABC, WNBC and WPIX have made arrangements with transmission facilities in Alpine, N.Y., to get their over-the-air signals out to New Yorkers.

WNYW and its wholly owned sister station WWOR, although with no backup transmitter that could be instantly activated, kept their lease for space on top of the Empire State Building and should both be in operation before the week is out, according to Jim Clayton, general manager of the two stations.

WABC’s Beam said all of the local TV stations are cooperating with each other to formulate plans for setting up new transmission facilities, working through an existing mechanism called the TV All-Industry Committee.

More TV


    The Mediapro Studio, America TV Strike Three Series Co-production Alliance

    Spanish TV giant The Mediapro Studio has inked a three-year collaboration deal with Argentine broadcaster America TV, aimed at developing, producing and distributing original content. The agreement will see the production of three series to be distributed in the global market, the companies said Thursday in a statement. No details of the projects were revealed. [...]

  • Trentino Leads By Example With Eco-Friendly

    Trentino Film Commission Leads By Example With Eco-Friendly Program T-Green

    In 2015, Luca Ferrario set out to lead by example. Though many European commissions already offered sustainability programs, none, he felt, did so in ways that could flourish in his own back yard. “Most of my colleagues offered guidelines to follow, only those were not enough, at least not in Italy,” says Ferrario, who is [...]

  • American Son review

    TV News Roundup: Netflix Releases 'American Son' Trailer

    In today’s TV news roundup, Netflix released the trailer for “American Son” starring Kerry Washington and first looks at Dolly Parton’s new anthology series, “Heartstrings.” FIRST LOOKS Netflix has released the trailer for “American Son,” which premieres Nov. 1 on the streaming service. Directed by Tony award-winner Kenny Leon, the film is based on the [...]

  • BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to

    BBC's Little Mix Talent Show to Be Produced by Management Firm's New Shingle, ModestTV

    The BBC has confirmed its Little Mix talent show, which the pop band’s management firm, Modest!, will produce through a new banner, ModestTV. “Little Mix The Search” will be exec produced by Andrea Hamilton, who has partnered with the management outfit to launch the new operation. Her entertainment show credits include “The Voice” and “Strictly [...]

  • Monica Beletsky Apple TV Plus

    Apple Sets Overall Deal With Monica Beletsky

    Monica Beletsky is the latest of a small group of content creators to set an overall deal with Apple and their streaming platform, Apple TV Plus. Under the multi-year deal, Beletsky will develop and produce television series exclusively for the streamer. This is the first overall of Beletsky’s career. Her previous credits include “Fargo,” “Friday [...]

  • Saladin Patterson

    Saladin Patterson Inks Overall Deal at 20th Century Fox Television

    Saladin Patterson has signed an overall deal with 20th Century Fox Television. Under the multi-year deal, Patterson will develop, write and produce comedy series for network, cable and streaming platforms. He was previously under a development deal at the studio earlier in his career. Patterson is currently an executive producer on the upcoming FX series [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content