Needles Remains As One Of The Last U.S. Bastions Of Over-The-Air TV

NEEDLES (February 5)—While traditional broadcast television on the VHF [very high frequency] and UHF [ultra high frequency] bands has died out across most of the United States, the phenomenon remains alive at the extreme east end of San Bernardino County.
Ironically, traditional television remains a staple in one of the county’s most remote areas because initially television broadcasts did not reach there. The U.S. Federal  Communciations Commision  designated a portion of the VHF band for television in 1941 on channels one through six. During World War II, channel one was removed and used only for war purposes.  In 1945, channels seven through thirteen were added. Subsequently, a portion of the UHF bandwidth was allotted to television stations to meet  the demand for additional over-the-air television channels in urban areas.  In 1983, UHF channels 70–83 were taken away from TV broadcast services. As cable and satellite television service saturated most of the country, the use of the portions of the VHF and UHF spectrums reserved for television broadcasting throughout most of the country ended and those bandwidths became available for relicensing or sale after a transition period, which ended June 12, 2009 in the United States.
More than a half century prior to that, however, The Needles Community Television Club was founded in 1958.  Because surrounding mountains blocked VHF and UHF line-of-sight signals, Needles and the Mohave Valley across the river in Arizona were unable to tune in television stations. Local officials on both sides of the Arizona/California border enlisted technicians from Kingman, Arizona to conduct tests from around the region to set up “translators,” i.e., signal repeaters that allowed locals armed with a UHF antenna to get television broadcasts on their TV sets.
After experimentation, trial and error led technicians to determine that the ideal spot for the translator was atop the Black Mountains near Oatman, Arizona. The club in partnership with Mohave County operated – and continues to operate – ten channels that are received over the air by means of a simple antenna.
Even with the advent of cable television and satellite TV service, the club and its service persisted because of the expense of such in-home services and the consideration that cable service is not available in many outlying areas.
The Needles Community TV Club remains a going entity, committed to ensuring low cost over-the-air television is available in the region, having made an adaption from analog to digital mode, broadcasting in high definition nine network channels. A digital tuner is required to lock onto the broadcasts. Those with a high definition digital tuner can receive the signals for all stations in high definition and view them in high definition as well, depending on the screening capability of their sets. Vintage televisions must be augmented with an external converter box to change the digital signal to analog. Converter boxes are available for roughly $60.
The translator facility is maintained through voluntary donation dues of $10 per year, precisely the same cost as was instituted in 1958. Donation dues can be sent to Needles TV Club, 1101 W. Broadway, Needles, CA 92363.
The club is overseen by a board of directors elected by dues-paying members at an annual meeting. Rolland Hartwick is currently serving as president of the board.
Dues paying members of the club are provided with instructions on setting up a reception antenna. Club brochures are available at the Big O Tires/NAPA Auto Parts in Needles as well as the Needles Point Pharmacy. The Big O Tires/Napa Auto Parts Store features a demonstration television in its waiting area to allow potential club members to  experience the quality of over-the-air all digital and high definition broadcasts.

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