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No over the air PBS TV for East Hawaii for possibly two weeks

How PBS Hawaii relays their signal from Honolulu to the neighbor islands (map courtesy of PBS Hawaii)

How PBS Hawaii relays their signal from Honolulu to the neighbor islands (map courtesy of PBS Hawaii)

By Baron Sekiya/

According to Stephen Komori, Vice President of Content Delivery at PBS Hawaii, the Big Island has always relied upon broadcasts from the Maui PBS transmitter to activate a series of translators to service the Big Island from Ninole to South Point.

Komori said, “In this case, our new digital transmitter, which is located at Ulupalakua Ranch (almost 6000ft. lower in elevation than our analog transmitter), is received by a translator which relays the digital signal to Hilo and we convert the digital signal to analog to keep our system intact. Unfortunately, some critical equipment that would make it possible for us to accomplish this task was “lost” by the shipping company. It has been subsequently found and sent on its way to Hawaii. It is estimated that it will take about two weeks to get it to Hilo, so I am piecing together a temporary system to try and restore PBS programming to Hawaii.”

“Translator systems are much like the older Christmas lights…when one goes out, all the following lights do not work…so when the Hilo translator does not work, all the others will not work.”

Because the translator stations on the Big Island are not ‘transmitters’ they do not fall under the FCC mandate to go digital by the Hawaii deadline of January 15 or national deadline of February 17. PBS Hawaii will switch to digital transmission on both the Big Island and Kauai later.

PBS Hawaii will still be available on the Big Island for most of those who subscribe to cable TV, satellite TV or can pick-up the Maui’s digital transmitter signal in West Hawaii via an antenna and a digital TV or converter box with an analog TV.

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