UPDATED: KATV Tower Collapses; Competitors, Comcast Try to Help

by Nate Hinkel  on Friday, Jan. 11, 2008 4:06 pm  

Crews are working to restore television signals to at least two central Arkansas stations after KATV-TV, Channel 7’s 2,000-ft. tower collapsed today during repairs about 20 miles south of Little Rock near Redfield. 

A worker was on the tower when it collapsed, but suffered only minor injuries. A source close to the situation said the worker was employed by a contracted company that offers tower maintenance.

The tower collapsed while workers were restringing guy wires at the tower site. Guy wires are thick, tensioned cables designed to add stability to structures.

Competing central Arkansas news stations are offering help to the ABC affiliate.

Rob Heverling, news director at KARK-TV, Channel 4, said the station immediately contacted KATV and sent its engineers to the scene. Larry Audas, general manager at KTHV-TV, Channel 11, did the same.

“We certainly regret this and know it is the most difficult of circumstances for any TV station,” Audas said.

Heverling said “all competition is out the window when something like this happens.”

A station’s tower generally sends a signal to viewers who watch TV off a home antenna or rabbit ears, to outlying cable companies that send the signal out to their cable customers, and to the two satellite companies (Dish & Direct) that send the signal out to their subscribers.

According to one source, all of those customers will be in jeopardy until KATV is able to supply an alternate delivery system of its signal. 

Several calls to KATV were not immediately returned.

According Comcast, KATV’s signal is still available to its subscribers, though its digital-high definition and 24-hour news channel is off the air.

“We’re working to restore those options,” said Mike Wilson, a Comcast spokesman. “Comcast subscribers who just turn on TV and go to channel 8 won’t notice any difference.”



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