On Track for the Repack

An update on the Raycom Media deal
By: Keith Pelletier

In July, we announced that Raycom Media, a major TV station group based in Montgomery, AL, had placed a very large order for 29 new Dielectric UHF and VHF antennas, tunable RF Filters, and transmission line to facilitate channel changes for their TV stations affected by the spectrum repack.

Today, we’re happy to report that virtually 90% of the engineering work related to the Raycom Media order is now complete. Because the group moved swiftly and decisively to secure the engineering design services they needed for the repack—to make certain their orders were at the head of the line—their affected stations are in very good shape to make their repack-related deadlines.

Here at Dielectric, we’re very pleased that the steps we took before the repack—to substantially boost our engineering and manufacturing efficiencies—appear to be paying off for our major broadcast customers that need us to fulfill large orders on very tight repack deadlines.

Because we’ve been through heavy-duty broadcast industry transitions before, we had the forethought to transform our workflow in advance by adopting software-defined modeling programs and more streamlined production processes. This better positioned us to deliver the comprehensive repack solutions—including the robust level of engineering services—that broadcast customers like Raycom Media now require.

With the engineering phase now largely behind us, we’re now driving toward building and delivering the new antenna systems that Raycom Media ordered. Since the group has stations in all 10 phases of the spectrum repack, we’re planning a phased rollout, with the new components set to arrive at the respective stations’ tower sites a few months before they must be installed.

We’re on track to deliver new equipment by the end of the year to the handful of Raycom Media stations scheduled to transition in Phases 1 and 2. And for those slated for later phases (3-10), we’ll have shipments going out regularly in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The Raycom Media antenna order includes several Dielectric TFU-WB UHF arrays. This low-cost, side-mount, UHF broadband pylon antenna delivers higher voltage handling, 75% less wind-load, lower overall weight, and greater cost-efficiency compared with UHF panel antennas.
The Raycom Media order also includes new Dielectric tunable RF filters—which are waveguide designed for exceptional power rating and air-cooled for operational efficiency—along with multiple runs of rigid transmission line. It also calls for TFU-G, TFU-E, TFU-J UHF arrays, as well as THV VHF arrays. Most of these arrays incorporate elliptical polarization for enhanced reception performance in ATSC 1.0, as well as for the advanced ATSC 3.0 broadcast TV standard.
“As their antennas have been broadly installed across our station group, Dielectric had records detailing our stations’ unique antenna patterns,” said Bob Thurber, director of engineering, Raycom Media.
“Along with the level of technical and commercial support we have received, this made planning for the repack that much easier,” Thurber added. “We’re confident that Dielectric will facilitate our complex, multi-station transition and meet the demanding requirements of the spectrum repack.”
As one of the nation’s largest and fastest growing broadcast groups, Raycom Media owns, or provides services for, 65 TV stations and two radio stations in 44 U.S. markets across 20 states. Together, these stations comprise 16% of U.S. TV households.

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