The nascent TV Repack was struck by tragedy yesterday as three workers fell to their deaths in Miami Gardens, Florida. The workers were near the top of the 1,250-foot TV tower, which transmits the signal for Local 10 and WSVN, when the gin pole they were using collapsed.
Local 10 News reported that the workers were “removing gear at the top of the tower to install the transmission antenna” when the accident occurred.
WSVN-TV owner and president Edmund Ansin released a statement that reads, “We are saddened by this tragic event. Our deepest sympathies go out to the families of the three men who died. They worked for a company hired by Channel 7 to perform work on the tower that was required by the FCC.”
The three men, whose names have not been released, were employees of Texas-based Tower King II. After receiving numerous erroneous calls about the accident, Grant Phillips, president of a different company, TowerKing, released a statement.
“We at Towerking in Defiance, Ohio are saddened to learn of the unfortunate events that occurred in our industry today near Miami, Florida. We extend our condolences to the friends and family of the people involved in today’s accident. Towerking2, the Texas-based company whose employees were involved in the accident, has no affiliation with our company in any way. We will keep those affected by this tragedy in our prayers,” Phillips said.
The tower, which was completed and began digital transmission in 2009, was receiving a new antenna as part of the TV repack, resulting from the broadcast incentive auction where wireless companies acquired 600 MHz frequencies and broadcasters are moved to other spectrum.
Broadcasters, who have argued that the 39-month window for transitioning to new spectrum was to short, may use the incident to ask the FCC for more time.
The deaths bring the total of industry fatalities to five in 2017, according to Wireless Estimator.
J. Sharpe Smith is senior editor of the AGL eDigest. He joined AGL in 2007 as contributing editor to the magazine and as editor of eDigest email newsletter. He has 27 years of experience writing about industrial communications, paging, cellular, small cells, DAS and towers. Previously, he worked for the Enterprise Wireless Alliance as editor of the Enterprise Wireless Magazine. Before that, he edited the Wireless Journal for CTIA and he began his wireless journalism career with Phillips Publishing, now Access Intelligence.