April 20, 2018
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Bangor TV station takes steps to avoid repeat freezing of UMaine hockey broadcast

By Larry Mahoney, BDN Staff

Steps have been taken by WFVX Fox 22 Bangor to avoid the problems that prevented University of Maine hockey fans from watching the conclusion of the game between the Black Bears and the University of New Hampshire on Jan. 25.

The broadcast went off the air in the third period due to the accumulation of ice on an uplink antenna located outside the Alfond Arena in Orono.

Maine rallied for three third-period goals to beat the Wildcats 4-2.

WVII-ABC 7 (ABC), WFVX Fox 22’s sister station, will air Friday night’s Maine game against Merrimack College at Alfond Arena.

The New Hampshire game was also being shown on the Fox College Sports network and those viewers were able to watch the entire third period.

Steve Brant, the chief engineer at WFVX/WVII, said he has convinced the Pack Network, which produces the games, and Learfield Sports, which has a multimedia marketing agreement with the University of Maine, to uplink the feed to a different satellite.

“It has a better look angle and that means a stronger satellite signal,” said Brant.

He explained that the signal is beamed from Orono to a satellite 25,000 miles in space. The signal not only must reach from the production truck to the satellite, it also has to “make a return trip from the satellite to the truck.

“If you have a lot of clouds, ice or heavy wet snow, it makes the signal weaker. So we couldn’t see the feed either,” said Brant.

He speculated that the reason the Fox College Sports subscribers were able to watch the third period was because the master control facility was in Texas so the return signal wasn’t hampered by ice or heavy wet snow since the weather was much better in Texas.

Mike Palmer, general manager of WVII-ABC 7 and WFVX Fox 22, said “there was no ice in Texas so there was no problem.”

This will be the last of seven televised hockey games on one of the two stations, which also aired three UMaine football games.

WVII-WFVX-Rockfleet Broadcasting and Fox College Sports are in the first year of a two-year deal with the university and Learfield Sports to televise UMaine games.

“It has been beyond our expectations,” said Palmer. “Working with the University of Maine and Learfield Sports has been a terrific experience and we’re exploring ways to make it better next year. It has been a win-win partnership.”

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