© 2004 Updated: 9/22/04


Tribune’s KWGN loses appeal

On August 2, 2004, District Judge Leland Anderson upheld JeffCo’s denial of Tribune Corporation’s appeal to replace analog with digital transmitter on a 330-foot, non-conforming tower.

The Channel 2 TV tower on a 1.2-acre site (zoned A-1) is 400 feet from Buffalo Bill’s Grave (buried in 1917), which receives 500,000 annual visitors.

Judge Anderson has not ruled on CARE’s appeal of JeffCo’s permit for KWGN to add digital TV to a nonconforming tower reduced in height to below 200 feet. When the resolution to allow low power additions on shorter towers was written in 1993, the Tribune tower was over 200 feet.

KWGN is operating digital on the short tower at reduced power to comply with legal RF emission limits. The tower sends signals directly at more than 1500 families at the same or higher altitude as the antenna within five miles.

FCC claims JeffCo permitted KCEC-DTV on KWGN tower

On February 12, 2004, the Federal Communications Commission approved an application for KCEC-TV (Channel 50) to place its new digital antenna on the KWGN-TV (Channel 2) tower. The 1.2 acre site is 100 yards east of Buffalo Bill’s Grave, the Pahaska Lodge and historic Lariat Trail Scenic Drive established from 1912 to 1922.

This application had been stalled for several years after CARE petitioned the FCC to deny the permit based on the failure to assess the effects of the antennas on nearby sites listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The radio frequency exposure assessment must take existing RF exposure levels from nearby transmitters into account.

The FCC’s letter denying CARE’s petition and granting KCEC’s construction permit stated: "We noted that the issue of historic preservation had been considered by Jefferson County as part of the local zoning process for the proposed changes to KWGN’s existing tower. We find no evidence that KCEC-TV’s addition of its DTV antenna to the existing KWGN tower would interfere with that decision."

In actuality, Jefferson County denied KWGN’s proposed modifications to its existing main tower, where the FCC has issued construction permits for both KWGN-DT and KCEC-DT. JeffCo has never considered compliance with historic preservation rules, which are a federal requirement when the FCC takes federal action. Therefore, the FCC is fabricating "finds no evidence" and "interference" with local government, non-conforming, land use regulations.

With respect to meeting RF exposure guidelines, the FCC’s letter stated: "We previously concluded that operation of KWGN’s DTV facilities from the KWGN tower would comply with the radio frequency exposure limits. We find no evidence to depart from that finding with respect to KCEC-DT’s DTV operation on that existing tower."

CARE’s initial complaint was that KCEC’s RF exposure analysis was deficient, in that it did not take into account all existing nearby emitters that contribute significantly to ground level exposure. That deficiency still exists, and is exacerbated by the start of operation of newly licensed KWGN-DT on the Channel 2 "auxiliary" tower under a Special Temporary Authority granted by the FCC.

The FCC "finds no evidence" because the FCC has not performed, nor required KCEC to perform, a complete RF exposure study. If this study had been performed, the FCC would have "found evidence" that the calculated RF exposure in the vicinity of 39-43-45.7N, 104-14-12.3 W on Lookout Mountain would be 175% of the Maximum Permissible Exposure.

Click here to read earlier developments in this story.