WITC Returns to Air After 2-Week Outage

April 9, 2011 by

SYRACUSE -- Cazenovia College's WITC 88.9 is back on the air, following more than two weeks off-air due to a transmitter malfunction.  The station is currently using a transmitter on-loan from WHWS at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva.

We heard about the outage by reading a post from WHWS General Manager Aaron Read, on the Syracuse/Utica board at  Read says it all had to do with WITC's Armstrong transmitter: "something in the built-in fuse holder fried and fried hard."

He went on to explain WHWS "had a near-identical Bext transmitter at the same power level that we weren't using," so he brought it out to Cazenovia and helped WITC's Andrew Ó Baoill get WITC back on-air this past Tuesday night.  Read expects WITC will be borrowing his transmitter "for a few months."

Due to the length of the outage, WITC filed with the FCC for Special Temporary Authority (STA) to Remain Silent.  In an accompanying letter dated March 29, Ó Baoill explained to the FCC that the malfunction took WITC off the air on March 20.  He says, "specifically, a fuse casing in our transmitter is damaged and requires replacement."

As per FCC regulations, any station that remains silent for 10 days must file a "Silent Notification" with the FCC.  After 30 days of silence (or, as in this case, if the station anticipates the silence could possibly last 30 days), a station must file for an STA -- basically to protect the station's license during any prolonged period of silence.

STA applications require an explanation for the silence; according to the Broadcast Law Blog, silence caused by unavoidable technical problems are generally accepted by the FCC.  By contrast, voluntary outages (for example, if a financially-struggling owner is simply looking to save money by shutting down while trying to sell a station) are not as likely to be approved.  To avoid abuse of the STA policy, FCC rules include a clause that says a station's license will automatically expire if it remains off-air for 12 consecutive months.

Read's offer to loan WITC a spare transmitter from WHWS means that WITC won't come anywhere near that 12-month deadline -- and since the outage was less than 30 days, it no longer needs the STA.


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