SALT LAKE CITY, Utah -- Utah was launched into the era of digital television today when Utah Governor Mike Leavitt helped send out the first digital signal from the newly constructed DTV Utah transmitter on Farnsworth Peak. The DTV Utah site, located on the peak in the Oquirrh Mountains named after the inventor of television - Philo T. Farnsworth - is the first facility in the country built specifically for digital transmission.
The eight stations comprising DTV Utah are KBYU Channel 11, KJZZ Channel 14, KSL Channel 5, and KTVX Channel 4, KUED Channel 7, KULC Channel 9, KUTV Channel 2, and KUWB Channel 30. Among those, KSL and KTVX are the only two that are equipped to broadcast digital signals immediately.
"The big winners today are the citizens of Utah," said Greg James, Chairman of DTV Utah. "They are going to fall in love with digital television - which in my mind is the most significant innovation in television since the advent of color TV. I think Mr. Farnsworth would be proud of this technology and how eight highly competitive Utah TV stations came together to build this great site."
The cost for the DTV Utah site, which was divided equally among member stations, is more than $7 million and includes a 330-foot tower, antennas, transmitters, and building and emergency power systems. The site is adjacent to KSL's existing transmitter on Farnsworth Peak, which is 9,273 feet above sea level - or 5,000 feet above the Salt Lake Valley floor. KSL is the managing partner.
The alliance between the eight stations of DTV Utah is unprecedented in the competitive television industry, but has proven to be economically worthwhile for them.
"The costs involved in making the transition from analog to digital are very high," said James. "If all the stations had to assume this financial burden on their own, DTV would be a lot longer in coming. By sharing expenses, the transition from analog to digital is smoother and will now be reaching the people of Utah ahead of schedule."
Digital television (DTV) is an entirely new technology, providing superior quality in pictures and sound. It will also improve reception in some locations, particularly in rural areas along the Wasatch Front, where current signal quality is weak. FCC rules require stations to begin broadcasting both digital and analog signals beginning no later than 2002. Both signals will be broadcast until at least 2006, when stations will be required to surrender current channel allocations. The digital signals will be on frequencies different from current analog signals. Existing television sets will not be able to receive digital signals without a converter accessory.