Technicians working to get Channel 20 back on the air

April 29, 1992|By Steve McKerrow | Steve McKerrow,Staff Writer

Officials at WDCA (Channel 20) were hoping the Washington television station would return to the air this morning, after a technical problem forced the independent outlet to go dark shortly before midnight Monday.

Baltimore area viewers, however, have not been able to see the station since about 3 a.m. Monday, when the problem first prompted a reduction to 30 percent power, according to a station spokesman.

Normally, some local viewers south of Baltimore can receive the station's signal by broadcast, but most see WDCA through retransmission by cable systems. Dick Williams, Channel 20's general manager, said the initial power reduction effectively prevented even cable carriers from picking up the station.

"It's a real mess for us," Mr. Williams acknowledged yesterday, noting that technicians had isolated the problem to either the transmission line leaving the station's studios on River Road in Bethesda or its broadcast antenna.

A technical consultant from New Jersey was expected to arrive yesterday, and Mr. Williams said if estimates are correct, the earliest the station could begin broadcasting again would be early today.

He noted all TV stations are currently in the middle of the May "sweeps" ratings period. And he said the station would have to consult with ratings service officials to assure the service disruption is taken into account.

In prime time, the blackout affected Baltimore Orioles broadcasts last night and on Monday. And if repairs are not successful today, Channel 20's coverage tonight at 7:30 of the Stanley Cup playoffs involving the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League could be affected.

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