RTN Parent Buys 78 TV Translators

Henry Luken, head of RTN parent Luken Communications, says the purchase is the first step in a plan to acquire around 400 translators and low-power stations so that its affiliates will have ample bandwidth to broadcast Luken's 10 existing and planned multicasting networks.The seller of the translators is David Honig's Minority Media and Telecommunications Council. The price: $390,000.

Luken Communications, best known to broadcasters as the purveyor of Retro Television Network, is on a buying spree, seeking translators and low-power TV stations that it plans to make available to affiliates of its multicast networks so that they will have sufficient bandwidth to carry all 10 of Luken’s existing and planned multicasting networks.

“We want to make sure that they have adequate bandwidth to run all our free over-the-air networks,” says Luken principal and operating partner Henry Luken, of Chattanooga, Tenn.

Luken subsidiary Digital Networks LLC has made its first major purchase of translators, agreeing to purchase around 80 from the Minority Media and Telecommunications Council Inc. for $390,000, according to an FCC filing seeking approval of the deal.

MMTC, headed by David Honig, acquired the translators as a donation from Trinity Broadcasting Network last year.

Luken says that his goal is to amass 400 translators and low-power stations, mostly in small and medium markets where broadcast spectrum is tight. He says he envisions signing agreements with his affiliates under which they will run the translators and sell local advertising within their markets.

In markets where his affiliates are interested in the running the translators or where he has no affiliates, Luken says he is prepared to partner with non-broadcasters.


In addition to RTN, Luken now offers Tuff.TV, My Family TV and PBJ, a kids channel. He declined to identify the other networks in the works.

For the networks, Luken says that he is also actively shopping for programming libraries to fill the networks.

Luken says he understands that the translators come with no must-carry rights, but believes that cable systems will eventually pick up his channels because their telco rivals will and because a proliferation of over-the-air-only signals might encourage viewers to cancel their cable service.

“If we broadcast with enough quality content, what are the cable systems really going to do?”

Luken acknowledges that the translators are all analog, but he say he’s prepared to invest in digital upgrades just as soon as the FCC clears the way.

Comments (4)

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len Kubas says:

June 16, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Is a new Equity Media Holdings in the works?

Kathryn Parent says:

June 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Go Henry, Go!

Ellen Samrock says:

June 16, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Well, here is one cockeyed optimist who believes in the future of OTA television and LPTV. I wish Henry the best. Maybe, I’ll even carry one of his channels.

Just Fine says:

June 16, 2011 at 10:27 pm

Gotta give it to Luken. They are enjoying the digital TV era and showing what could be done with OTA TV. Wish him nothing but the best.