ARK Multicasting is taking low-power television (LPTV) to the next level with ATSC 3.0, and ARK has selected Dielectric as its main antenna provider. Dielectric has built and stored Powerlite Series antennas for nearly 50 ARK stations, most of which operate on UHF frequencies impacted by the low-power FCC Repack phase. The deal also includes antennas for two repacked VHF stations, and 150 single TUA panels for non-repack UHF stations.
ARK’s 300 LPTV stations reach about one-third of U.S. households across the country. In an effort to make room in the broadcast spectrum for wireless broadband services, the FCC Repack displaced almost 60 of ARK’s stations. Those stations will be assigned new broadcast frequencies by September 2022. Within three years, ARK plans to upgrade the affected stations to ATSC 3.0 operation and offer datacasting services as well as its current religious programming.
Dielectric’s new range of ATSC 3.0-ready Powerlite slot and panel antennas has been designed specifically for U.S. LPTV broadcasters. To meet ARK’s need for antennas, Dielectric recalibrated its automated pole fabrication machine, originally built for full-power broadcasters impacted by the FCC Repack, to accommodate low-power, pre-production workflows. As a result, low-power antennas can be built more efficiently and broadcasters can bring their displaced stations back online more quickly.
“Because Dielectric has applied its technology and experience from the full power repack to LPTV, we’ve been able to design and build ARK’s antennas way ahead of their needs,” explained Cory Edwards, director of OEM, distributor, and Southeast Asia sales, Dielectric. “And knowing those antennas are already in process helps ARK plan better for their upcoming installations. We also worked closely with ARK to make the FCC reimbursement process more efficient for their business and operational needs, which was critical to meeting their repack deadlines.”
Dielectric will ship DLP Series slot antennas and TUL Series panel antennas to ARK stations across the country in the coming months. Dielectric worked closely with ARK engineers to develop custom patterns for each station based on coverage areas and market conditions.
Edwards adds that ARK is already lining up installation companies with experienced crews to manage the equipment installations next year.
“Dielectric has been an important partner for ARK Multicasting as we navigate the broadcast repack,” said ARK Multicasting CEO Josh Weiss. “The ability for Dielectric to anticipate and meet our antenna needs has allowed ARK Multicasting to more efficiently navigate the myriad of supply chain challenges confronting low power broadcasters impacted by the repack.”
Dielectric’s Powerlite Series DLP antenna is an economical, single-channel choice for LPTV, DTV and gap filling. The DLP features standard mounting brackets for 1-1/4 to 4-1/2-inch OD pipes, slot covers for environmental protection, and a 2.5 kW average power rating. Available in horizontal, circular, and elliptical polarisation, this Powerlite antenna series feature five standard elevation gains and offers eight standard azimuth patterns. Custom patterns are available on request.