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Stallions Satellite and Antenna - TV Reception Solutions
TV Antenna Aiming
When it comes to knowing where to properly aim your TV antenna in order to get the best possible picture from your local TV stations, there can be some confusion to which way to aim the antenna. That's what this tutorial is going to cover.

Since most TV stations have their studio in the middle of a city in a one or two story building, it isn't practical to locate their broadcasting antenna on top of their building since it simply isn't high enough to clear the nearby buildings.

WSYX / WTTE - TV/DT Broadcast Tower, Columbus, OH
WSYX / WTTE - TV/DT Broadcast Tower, Columbus, OH

And locating a typical 1000 foot broadcast tower near their studio usually isn't possible due to local flight patterns, lack of necessary space, or asthestic concerns. Many times the studio will simply be in a poor location, such as in a valley, and locating a transmitter in that location would not be able to serve the entire TV market. This is why TV stations usually have their broadcasting towers a short distance away where these problems are significantly reduced if not eliminated.

Broadcasting towers vary in height, depending on many factors. One of the largest factors that determines how tall a TV station's tower can be in the United States is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Local flight patterns have to be taken into consideration and many times the most ideal location for a station's broadcast antenna (in regard to serving the most viewers) will be in the direct path of a major flight pattern.

The other main concern in placement of broadcast TV antennas is the asthetics of the tower or antennas. Most people would prefer not to live next to any type of tower, especially a very tall broadcast TV tower with guy (anchor) wires. But if stations did not have a broadcast antenna then most viewers would not be able to watch their local station(s), even if they had cable TV or received their local channels over a DBS satellite system. Two cities in the U.S. where groups of people have fought their local broadcasters on tower location are San Francisco and Denver.

Sutro Tower - San Francisco
Sutro (Master Broadcast Antenna) Tower, San Francisco, CA

Because of asthetics being a major concern for both residents and TV stations, many stations across the country have decided to use "master (broadcast) antennas" or towers that can support many stations all on one tower or building. Cities where master antennas can be found on towers include Atlanta, Baltimore, Columbus, Ohio, Dallas, Miami, San Francisco and Sacramento-Stockton. Cities where master antennas can be found on skyscrapers include Chicago, New York and Toronto.

Along with the asthetic advantages to having a common transmitting site, receiving TV antenna installations are simplified and multiple antennas and rotators are usually not required unless stations not at the same site are desired. With the advantages to having one transmitting site, there are some disadvantages as well. One TV station's broadcast antenna can weigh as much as 20 tons and putting multiple antennas on a single tower or building can impose a tremendous amount of weight on the supporting structure.

This is why careful engineering has to go into building one of these master broadcasting sites. Along with the expensive engineering costs, the tower or building itself must be able to support the antennas loads, and can cost millions of dollars more than a tower for a single station. Sites that use a building to support the master broadcast antenna require custom built antennas designed specifically for that site and the stations that will use the antenna. This type of broadcast antenna also uses special combining networks of cables and filters to put two different TV stations on to the same antenna.

This can create problems when service needs to be performed at the site and dedicated engineers that maintain and coordinate work between the different stations is usually required, increasing the overall cost to operate this type of broadcast antenna site. Tragic events, such as the attack and collapse of the World Trade Center in New York, can take nearly an entire city's TV stations offline and figuring out where to place the new antennas can be quite a challenge.

After the World Trade Center in New York collapsed, most of the local broadcasters installed new antennas atop the Armstrong Tower, (the same tower where FM radio was invented by Edwin H. Armstrong) near Alpine, New Jersey. This site however is 18 miles north of the old site and the tower is nearly 800 feet lower than what the top of the World Trade Center's master broadcast antenna system was. This resulted in poor reception all across the New York City viewing area and some stations lost up to 40% of their former viewing audience until new broadcast antennas could be located atop the Empire State Building

To find out more information on where your local TV stations broadcasting antennas are located, visit the W9WI TV Database or contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

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