Local News

Raleigh's WRAL to Build Digital TV Tower

Posted May 17, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— WRAL-TV has announced that it will build what is expected to be the nation's first commercial TV tower dedicated solely to transmitting digital signals.

Last July, the station became the first commercial station in the U.S. to broadcast an experimental digital signal over Channel 32. The public can not receive the experimental signal because today's television sets are not able to pick it up.

The 2,000-foot tower will be built next to the station's existing tower near Clayton.

Eventually, the country's 1600 commercial TV stations will be able to convert to digital, and television set manufacturers will have digital sets on the market in about two years. They are expected to cost $1000 more than today's sets. An option would be to use converters on present sets.

Digital TV fans cite its improved picture and sound quality.

Tom Beauchamp, WRAL-TV's chief engineer, said the push into new territory has come from Capitol Broadcasting Company owner Jim Goodmon. "He has forced us to do the thinking years ahead of where we would be," Beauchamp toldThe News & Observer. WRAL is one of Capitol's properties.

Capitol expects to lease space on the tower to other area television stations for their digital signals, although the negotiations have not been completed.

The construction schedule will depend in part on obtaining the special steel used for broadcast towers.