This article has been updated to reflect new information. A transmitter failure at Meredith’s Phoenix CBS affil had transmitter problems yesterday that took it off the air as the basketball tournament kicked off. A station GM hopes to have the signal restored by early this afternoon.
This article has been updated to reflect new information from the KPHO general manager.
On one of the biggest days in sports, a transmitter failure at KPHO Phoenix knocked out the station’s over-the-air signal for more than 24 hours, says Ed Munson, the station’s vice president and general manager.
The outage, which impacts nearly 16% of viewers who watch TV the old fashioned way in Phoenix, continues as of 2 p.m. ET. Munson said a crew is going up at 12 p.m. PT, to repair the failure. “We believe the failure is right up the transmission line that carries radio waves right before the antenna,” says Munson, adding the timing couldn’t be worse with the start of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s Basketball Tournament. He hopes to have the OTA signal back up by early this afternoon.
Munson says he would have sent crews up earlier in the day, but had to coordinate with other broadcast stations located at the transmission site on South Mountain — located about 10 miles south of KPHO — to lower their power to prevent any injury during the repair. Crews went up at 2 a.m. PT Friday, but were unable to work in the dark, says Munson.
In a post on its website Thursday, the start of March Madness, the CBS affiliate said its “engineering department is working to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.” The station encouraged its viewers to watch CBS’s March Madness live stream online during the outage.
Dish Network customers also weren’t receiving a signal until service was restored later in the afternoon Thursday. The outage didn’t impact Cox or DirecTV customers. Western Broadband Cable and Orbitel Communications — two cable systems in the Phoenix area — also experienced the outage, but should be back up soon with an alternative way to transmit the signal, says Munson.
The Phoenix viewing area was heated in the comment’s section of the KPHO story about the outage.
“This is shameful,” commenter razor623 posted. “How could a major station in the United States experience such difficulties. The station is always mentioning ‘telling it like it is,” well tell us the truth, are you ever going to restore over the air broadcasting? Is there something more to this that meets the eye? What would be good would be an in-depth report online, if the problem is resolved, as well as being reported over the air once, if indeed it occurs, things are resotred. I am sure that you’re aware about the immense lack of credability your station currently has, how do you propose to restore it?”
“Wow OTA signal still off air… Why not tell it like it is… You could care less about OTA viewers… What a joke,” commenter Jerrick Argonia wrote.
Munson says ratings weren’t hugely affected by yesterday’s outage. “My theory is that most sports fans who would be watching the tournament are generally not over-the-air-only viewers. They have cable or satellite for ESPN. So I don’t think it has been affected much.”