OZ FM, NTV to stop broadcasting from Red Rocks

Frank Gale
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Citing aging infrastructure and rising maintenance costs, Newfoundland Broadcasting Co. Ltd. will stop broadcasting NTV and OZ-FM from its facilities in the Stephenville and Port aux Basques areas at the end of this week.

Doug Neal, NTV's station manager, said transmission towers in place are getting old, so the decision was made to shut down the facilities at Joey's Lookout in Stephenville and Red Rocks near St. Andrew's, which serves the Port aux Basques region.

"A series of towers was put up decades ago and they're now aging rapidly and reaching the end of life," he said. "Today there are all kinds of means of receiving the signal and replacing towers at $300,000 to $400,000 each is too much for this company to entertain."

Mr. Neal said all of the towers in their network will eventually be phased out as they get too costly to maintain.

"This is all tower related and not transmitter related. We have concerns about these towers in Stephenville and Red Rocks and eventually they will have to come down."

He noted what they are doing here is no different than what the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation did about a year ago, closing all their analog television sites.

Notices had been placed in The Western Star by the company, which is the licensed operators of NTV and OZ-FM, advising the public that NTV would still be available through cable and satellite television providers in affected areas.

While residents viewing NTV via television antennas won't receive the channel after Nov. 30, there is a possibility Stephenville listeners may be able to access OZ-FM's radio frequency after than date.

Mr. Neal said the company is attempting to work something out with the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to continue providing radio station service for the Stephenville area.

"But I warn there are still hurdles to go through, hopefully the outcome will be positive," he said.

Stephenville Mayor Tom O'Brien said he was certainly disappointed that Newfoundland Broadcasting Co. Ltd. hadn't been in touch beforehand regarding the decision.

"One would think the company would contact communities that are being affected so we could have voiced our concern regarding the discontinuation of the service," said the mayor.

Mr. Neal said as a private entity that has an issue with a tower, it's purely a business decision and the company can't be forced as a broadcaster to remain on the air.

He said the CRTC approved what they are doing and it was as a courtesy to the people in Stephenville and the Port aux Basques areas that they placed notices in the daily newspaper.

Organizations: OZ FM, CRTC, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Canadian Radio Telecommunications Commission Newfoundland Broadcasting Co.

Geographic location: Stephenville, Red Rocks, Port aux Basques Western Star

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