By Vernon Robison
Moapa Valley Progress
Over the past few weeks, board members from the Moapa Valley Television District (MVTVD) have been busy making final adjustments to some newly installed equipment at the district’s Beacon Hill facility just north of the I-15 exit 93 interchange.
The $26,000 installation of receiving antennas is the latest in a total of $180,000 of improvements to the MVTVD site over the past four years.
MVTVD officials say that the new antennas will improve reception of digital television signals coming from the Las Vegas valley which the district then re-broadcasts down into the low-lying areas of Moapa Valley for residents who would not otherwise be able to receive the signals.
“The key is to increase the rigidity of the receiving antenna,” said MVTVD Board Chairman Daniel Pray. “The more rigid the structure, the less that the high winds up here will jiggle these antennas around. When you have movement of the antennas, with a digital signal, it will cause pixelation or the picture will freeze. These structures will decrease that problem measurably.”
The new structure began construction at the end of the summer and was only recently completed. It includes 30 cubic yards of concrete which anchors the structure to the side of the rocky hill. The four arrays of receiving antennas are attached to 2 inch horizontal steel crosspoles which are held up by 3 inch vertical steel poles anchored into the concrete slab.
Each of the antenna arrays are specifically tuned to receive a different digital frequency which might contain up to three different channels of programming. These signals are then amplified with district equipment and re-broadcast digitally down into the valley to local homes.
The previous MVTVD receiving structure had much less stable anchoring and was located on the other side of the mountain from the main MVTVD site. The signal, once received, had to be sent along a cable strung out on the ground, over 2600 feet, to the main MVTVD facility. This distance also degraded the strength of the signal, Pray said. The new antenna is only about 50 feet away from the MVTVD building.
Pray said that the next step in the plans for the MVTVD site is the cleanup of the area. After the past four years of making updates and improvements to the equipment, there is a lot of old structures, equipment and cable lines that must now be removed from site.
Then the next goal will be to add more channels to the local lineup; including plans for a local access television channel, broadcasting local events, Pray said.
In 2008 MVTVD faced a dilemma. That year, federal legislation mandated that all primary broadcasters switch to a digital format. Under this mandate, the district, which was then broadcasting only seven relatively weak signals on old analog equipment, was faced with the choice of either disbanding or seeking a more stable source of funding in order to update its equipment.
In April 2008, the board approved a $24 annual service rate assessed through the property tax rolls.
Today, the district is re-broadcasting 21 stations of digital programming, six of which are in high definition format.