Met Rec district analyzing television translator sites

Public input the priority at this stage

[ By Mark Reaman ]

In an effort to determine how to most efficiently continue broadcast television in the area, the Gunnison County Metropolitan Recreation District is starting a public input process to ultimately see what makes sense for the future.

Currently there are 12 translator sites that facilitate over-the-air television in the district. According to a Television Viewership Survey conducted in 2020 by the district, 316 households reported to utilize the free service. The vast majority of those households, 92 percent, rely on half the translator sites that are located primarily between Gunnison and Mt. Crested Butte, while some of the rural translator sites are being used by as few as six households.

“We are looking to have an in-depth discussion about how to maintain the television system moving forward,” explained Met Rec district manager Hedda Peterson.

“Looking ahead,” Peterson continued, “we estimate that it will cost $1.5 million over five years to maintain the current system. This price tag includes ongoing maintenance and operations costs such as utilities and lease payments as well as capital outlay expenses required to accommodate changes in television transmission standards, which are expected to shift in the next three to five years.”

The District plans to solicit public input over the next several weeks to help inform a future television operations strategy.

Peterson said several factors would be assessed, including capital outlay costs required at each site; the number of households a particular site serves; alternative services available in certain areas; and the optimization potential of individual translator sites from a television and telecommunications standpoint.

“The fact is, it doesn’t matter how many people utilize a particular translator site, the cost of new translators, the most costly element of the system, are the same,” emphasized Peterson. “We want to ensure the various attributes of the translator system are understood and allow public input to inform a District television operations strategy moving forward.”

The District will formalize its public input process this month. Peterson said the public input would be used to inform television operations frameworks for consideration by the board this spring.

“We want to optimize the sites we control for both broadcast and telecommunications,” Peterson said. “The goal is to develop an operations framework that provides continued service that the District and its constituents are comfortable with—it could play out in many ways and depends on what the public feels is important.”

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