Fox 9 signal woes attributed to geography of Imperial Valley

October 24, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Frustrated with the sometimes-poor reception you're getting over the air from Fox Television?

You're not alone. El Centro's Fox 9 general manager Christopher Gallu is just as frustrated.

It seems the problem lies with the geography of the Imperial Valley. Moisture and sand are hampering the station's efforts to comply early with a federal law calling for television signals to be digital instead of analog by next year.

"We don't take the situation lightly," Gallu said Tuesday. "We're investing a great deal of money to make it right."

Channel 9 gets its Fox signal from a satellite. The signal is routed to the station's master control room, where programming and advertising is added. From there the signal is sent to Adelphia Cable via fiber optic cable and to the station's Black Mountain transmitter via radio signal. The transmitter is about 60 miles away from the station, and those who watch Fox get the signal from Black Mountain.


Gallu said about 40 percent of the Imperial Valley's viewers are affected by the problem, while 100 percent of Yuma viewers are affected. Yuma viewers either get their signal via the Black Mountain transmitter or from a cable system that gets its signal from Black Mountain.

Gallu said the digital signal is weaker than the analog signals and has problems going through the moisture in the air from farmland along the east side of the Valley and from the sand in the air in the dunes area. He compared the sand particles to bits of aluminum foil as far as the digital signal is affected.

Until the station can come up with a permanent solution to the digital signal problem, Gallu said the station has switched back to the analog signal as of Tuesday afternoon. He crossed his fingers and knocked on wood when asked if the problem should go away, at least temporarily, so viewers can watch the World Series, set to start Saturday.

Gallu said the station will do what's necessary to permanently fix the problem, including the potential of circumventing the dunes altogether.

"We're doing everything humanly and technically possible to get it fixed," he said. The station also carries the Telemundo and Warner Bros. signals.

Gallu said the WB signal is not affected because it is only available via cable, and not over the air.

The Telemundo signal is affected but only in Yuma, he said. In the Imperial Valley, Telemundo is available only from Adelphia. It should become available over the air by the first of the year, Gallu said.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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