Fifth full-power station coming from MontanaPBS

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MontanaPBS will launch a fifth full-power station in the state this fall, according to KUSM-TV General Manager Eric Hyyppa. KUKL-TV will offer all five of the station’s digital multicast channels.

The new station will serve the area around Kalispell, or some 85,000 residents in the northwestern corner of Montana. “It’s really the last major community in the state that hasn’t had great over-the-air service,” Hyyppa said. “It’s had translators, but no full-power coverage.” With the new station, MontanaPBS will reach nearly three-quarters of the state’s population, up from around two-thirds.

MontanaPBS has been working on plans for the station for more than a decade, Hyyppa said. Just before the DTV conversion in June 2009, the FCC allocated a channel – but a religious broadcaster also was interested, which held up the process. That broadcaster recently decided not to pursue a license. Because the original approval was for an analog channel, MontanaPBS then had to get permission from the FCC to create a new digital channel.

Total project cost is around $1 million, Hyyppa said. Most funding is from CPB, with the remainder from local foundations and members.

The equipment is on location and Hyyppa anticipates a launch in October.