No cause for PBS interference, but problem is fixed

URBANA — PBS may need to call on Sherlock Holmes to solve "The Case of The Scrambled Signal."

But DirecTV viewers in central Illinois may not care, now that they're once again receiving WILL-TV clearly.

In February, DirecTV viewers began having problems getting WILL in the evening and at night — specifically between 5:25 p.m. and 6:25 a.m.

Some sort of interference caused a loss of sound, poor picture quality and, in some cases, a complete loss of the signal.

WILL called on broadcast engineers, Springfield utility workers, even the Federal Communications Commission to find the source of the interference.

But they were never able to pin it down.

"The interference remains a mystery, but we installed a fix for the problem," said Mark Leonard, general manager for Illinois Public Media, which operates WILL.

The station now delivers its signal to DirecTV through a fiber-optic cable to avoid the interference that disrupted the over-the-air signal to DirecTV.

The fix required a $15,000 investment in equipment plus a $1,400 monthly fee.

"It was the least expensive solution we could find that could be put in place as quickly as possible," Leonard said in a release.

DirecTV has an estimated 65,000 subscribers in WILL's designated market area, and "we needed to get our signal to them," he said.

Leonard said the station staff was "frustrated" that it could not find the source of the interference.

An investigation indicated a signal near DirecTV's regional receiving and transmitting site in Springfield was interfering with the WILL signal. But the source of the interfering signal was never determined.

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Sid Saltfork wrote on July 26, 2012 at 1:07 pm

FOX jammed the signal.