By Mike Donahue
Moapa Valley Progress
Moapa Valley television has been forced into the 21st Century by a powerful lightening storm that for all intents and purposes has ended the Moapa Valley Television District’s (MVTVD) ability to broadcast an analog signal to local TV viewers.
The storm hit on July 29 devastating the majority of MVTVD’s analog equipment on Beacon Hill near I-15, according to Daniel Pray, MVTVD board chairman. Essentially, this means that for Moapa Valley residents to continue watching broadcast television without paying for cable or satellite, they will have to purchase equipment compatible with the digital signal that went into use all over the nation June 16, 2008.
The good news is that MVTVD has been rebroadcasting in digital since February and residents with the proper equipment can receive 12 digital stations with an amazing degree of clarity. The number of accessible stations is expected to climb to 30 stations in the next 18 months.
Although there is still at least one station available from MVTVD in the analog format, it won’t be much longer before everything is broadcast in digital.
In Moapa Valley, television reception was nonexistent until 1956 when Val Smith installed the first equipment on Beacon Hill. Smith erected an antenna that received an analog television signal broadcast from Las Vegas which he then retransmitted into this area.
In 1959, the Clark County Commission created the Moapa Valley TV maintenance district which, 10 years later, began to operate under Nevada Revised Statutes (NRS) 318.
Over the years MVTVD continued to rebroadcast analog television signals acquiring more land, licenses and equipment in the process. In 2008 MVTVD began receiving funding from the state based on property taxes on parcels located throughout the local area.
Each parcel of land in the rebroadcast area is assessed $24 by the Clark County assessor which is used in the TV district for equipment and maintenance. That amounts to about $50,000 a year administered by the MVTVD commission, who are all volunteers. They include chairman Pray, board members John Hudrlik, Bob Lyman, Christine Trombley and Roy Wilmer, and secretary Angie Perani.
“The first thing we did (with state funding) was ensure all our licenses were up to date, then we vacated some frequencies and acquired others,” Pray explained. “We have also updated our transmission antennas to the latest technology that includes being able to rebroadcast a digital signal.”
In 2008, all television stations in the U.S. began broadcasting a digital signal. Viewers throughout the country who relied on broadcast signals as opposed to cable or satellite were forced to replace their analog TV sets with digital sets or install auxiliary boxes which translated the digital signal back into analog.
In Moapa Valley, however, MVTVD would receive the digital signal and then turn it into analog so viewers could continue watching TV with old analog sets.
At the start of 2010, MVTVD installed a broadcast panel array transmission antenna that allowed it to rebroadcast television in both analog and digital.
Until the lightening storm July 29, MVTVD equipment rebroadcast four analog stations and 12 digital. The storm apparently fried the analog rebroadcast equipment.
“We’re currently doing everything we can to salvage the analog equipment, but it doesn’t look good,” Pray said. “The quandary we were faced with is do we spend money replacing the analog equipment when we’re just going to have to go all digital eventually? Or should we just accept the loss of the analog equipment and go all digital?
“We decided to just go digital like the rest of the country,” he said.
Today, Moapa Valley viewers can receive broadcast television in one of two ways, Pray explained. They must either buy a television set that accepts and uses a digital signal or they have to buy a digital box to interpret the signal and turn it into an analog signal for their older television.
“One good thing is the box that seems to work best with our equipment can be purchased locally at Radio Shack,” he said.