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GatesAir & Heartland Media Strike Repack Deal

14/06/2017

CINCINNATI, USA: GatesAir, a global leader in wireless, over-the-air content delivery solutions for TV and radio broadcasters, announces that Heartland Media - an Atlanta-based TV station group with top-rated stations in 11 U.S. markets - has committed to GatesAir transmission equipment and services for its stations affected by the FCC TV spectrum repack. The Heartland Media team is consulting with GatesAir to determine the best transmitter options for power levels each market requires as antenna pattern studies near conclusion, using a mix of Maxiva™ ULXTE liquid-cooled and UAXTE air-cooled UHF TV transmitters based on each site’s requirements.
 
“GatesAir is getting our business because of our long-standing relationship, as they have supported us better than any other supplier in the broadcast industry,” said Tom Bennett, Heartland Media’s Vice President of Operations. “With respect to the spectrum repack, they have provided invaluable guidance, and assisted with the FCC paperwork and filings that are required for reimbursement. The spectrum repack is a complex endeavor, and the GatesAir team has actively researched the easiest, most cost-efficient strategies for relocating our stations. We follow their recommendations because that’s the kind of confidence and trust we have in their services.”
 
The transition has proven especially challenging in the Huntsville, Alabama TV market where Heartland Media officially acquired ABC affiliate WAAY-TV on April 30. According to the FCC’s Southeastern U.S. transition plan, WAAY is assigned to move from channel 32 to 17 in Phase 2 (which runs from 12/1/18 through 4/12/19). However, another major Huntsville affiliate, with whom WAAY shares a combined broadcast antenna, doesn’t transition until Phase 8 (from 1/18/20 through 3/13/2020).
 
Working with GatesAir and ERI, Heartland is evaluating the benefit of an interim antenna until WAAY can switch to the combined antenna in Phase 8, versus setting up their own permanent antenna in Phase 2 and foregoing the savings a combined antenna can bring. “When you don’t have a back-up transmission site, the trick is to throw the switch over to your new channel while keeping your programming on the air, and that’s what GatesAir is helping us to do,” Bennett said.
 
According to Bennett, GatesAir has also provided Heartland Media with a roadmap for the pivotal ATSC 3.0 transition. Since the FCC reimbursement plan only covers “like equipment,” which means it must be comparable to the existing equipment, Bennett appreciates that GatesAir offers UHF DTV transmitters that are ATSC 3.0 ready. 
 
“We intend to go ATSC 3.0, but whether we do it as part of the repack or sometime down the road remains to be seen. We first need to develop a business plan for the new services we’ll be able to provide, such as mobile DTV,” Bennett said. “It’s nice to know that GatesAir is way ahead of the curve with an ATSC 3.0-ready exciter and transmitter, which helps us lay the groundwork for a seamless transition.”
 
Heartland Media also took part in an intensive workshop that GatesAir sponsored early in the spectrum repack process to educate its customers on what to expect during this transition, and how to best prepare for disruption. Heartland Media also attended a GatesAir workshop devoted to understanding ATSC 3.0’s IP-based technology, the transmission requirements, as well as the operational benefits of converting from ATSC 1.0 to the ATSC 3.0 DTV standard.  
 
“We’re pleased that Heartland Media has put trust and confidence in our organization and products, and we value our long-term relationship with them,” said Joseph Mack, Vice President of Sales, Americas for GatesAir. “In keeping with our mission to guide our customers through the challenges of channel relocation, we provide a comprehensive technology solution backed by site evaluation and engineering services. This includes accelerated delivery, installation and commissioning of equipment, and we stand ready to respond with any information or help our customers may need. We also look forward to assisting with Heartland Media’s ATSC 3.0 transition, backed by our ATSC 3.0 Guarantee program.”      
 
www.gatesair.com
 
© InBroadcast 2017 - All rights reserved.

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