Local ABC affiliate KLTV’s broadcast tower collapsed Friday morning — cutting off the main analog, digital and High Definition signals for Channel 7. Initial fears were that ABC’s coverage of the Super Bowl Sunday evening would be lost, but KLTV Vice President and General Manager Brad Streit said Saturday afternoon that service was expected to be restored Saturday evening.

“We had a temporary signal on the air at 8:30 p.m. (Friday) night, and we are in the process of installing a brand new transmitter at a back up location,” Streit said.

He expected full broadcast range — with the exception of the station’s high definition signal — to be available by approximately 5 p.m. Saturday.

No one was injured when the 1,078-foot main tower collapsed Friday in the community of Red Springs, approximately 10 miles north of Tyler. People living nearby said they heard the sounds of the metal collapsing just before 7:30 a.m. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

Until the tower can be rebuilt — a process Streit said could take months — KLTV will broadcast with an existing tower on the East Loop in Tyler. Though this temporary tower is approximately 300-400 feet lower than its predecessor, Streit said the signal’s range will not be affected.

Tyler Christian radio station KVNE, which shared the tower with KLTV, was also knocked off the air.

The KLTV tower at Red Springs was approximately 25 years old, and Streit said it passed its inspection in October 2005. In late 2005, workers installed KLTV’s new Digital and High Definition TV antenna on the tower without any concern for its stability. Inspections of the tower will begin the early part of this week.

Cox Communications customers in Tyler, Jacksonville, Athens, Mineola, Gladewater, Henderson, Winnsboro, Grand Saline, Mt. Pleasant, Mt. Vernon and Sulphur Springs, and those with DIRECT TV and DISH providers, never lost KLTV’s signal.

While the transmitter was down, KLTV streamed newscasts live on www.KLTV.com, as well as Jeopardy, Dr. Phil, Oprah, and Wheel of Fortune at their regularly scheduled times.

KLTV is owned by Raycom Media of Montgomery, Alabama, which operates 53 TV stations in the United States. Engineers from other Raycom stations who have had experience with similar tower problems were flown by Company jet to East Texas to assist KLTV.

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