June 20, 2018
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MPBN installs antenna to improve Bangor TV signal

By Nok-Noi Ricker, BDN Staff

BANGOR, Maine — Those in the region who lost their Maine Public Broadcasting Network signal two years ago with the switch from analog to digital may soon be able to get “Sesame Street” and “Nova” again.

A new 20-foot antenna installed Wednesday onto the Maine Public Broadcasting Network tower on Blackcap Mountain in Eddington is designed to reach residents from Bangor to Old Town who have been unable to tune into the television station, Gil Maxwell, MPBN’s chief technology officer, said Wednesday.

“It’s really aimed at fixing the problem in basically the Penobscot River valley,” he said.

The conversion from analog to digital signals in mid-2009 had the unintended effect of leaving some noncable and nonsatellite viewers without access to MPBN and some commercial broadcasters.

The additional antenna will add a second digital TV signal in the region and should significantly improve the signal for residents, Maxwell said. MPBN also has a tower in Dixmont that sends a signal to Bangor.

“We’re trying to come into Bangor, Orono, Old Town from 180 degrees,” he said. “It’s the best idea to try and overcome some of the problems. Hopefully that will help.”

Digital TV signals are more sensitive to obstacles such as mountains and hills, granite, oceans and rough weather, so having two signals intercept in Bangor should definitely improve signal strength, Maxwell said.

MPBN is investing about $75,000 for the equipment upgrade.

While tower crews work on the antenna Wednesday, the signal strength of WMEH-FM 90.9, the state’s first high-definition radio station which shares the Blackcap Mountain tower, was reduced, Maxwell said.

“We have to turn it off and lower its power to protect the workers,” he said.

With the antenna attached to the 334-foot tower, the signal strength of the radio station is scheduled to return to normal Thursday. The antenna must be tested and will be not be up and running until this weekend or early next week, Maxwell said.

Once the antenna is operational, viewers without the signal will need to rescan for available channels on their televisions.

“If they just scan their system, it should be there,” Maxwell said. “Some people will find they have two MPBN channels. Their systems should pick it up but the physical channel is 25.”

There is no guarantee that the new antenna will provide a signal to all who lost the public television station two years ago, but it should address the issue for many viewers, Maxwell said.

With digital, “It all depends on your location,” he said.

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