Blue Mountain Translator District Brings My Oregon News to Oregon’s Airwaves

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BMTD brings regional news and information to antenna TV viewers in a region with limited access to broadband

BAKER AND UNION COUNTIES – On November 16, a new over-the-air TV channel began broadcasting in northeast Oregon and the Willamette Valley. Blue Mountain Translator District, a special district serving Baker and Union counties, received authorization from the legislature under SB 394 to launch a noncommercial TV station in 2019. Plans to launch the station were accelerated in March, when the District decided to begin working on the channel early to provide access to local government meetings as COVID-19 forced the region into quarantine.

BMTD’s channel, Blue Mountains Now, has been streaming online since April. Blue Mountains Now provides access to meetings of county commissioners, city councils, school districts, and school/special districts through an online stream and a phone line, ensuring that individuals with and without broadband access have access to local governments. The District also turned My Oregon News into a regular news program, combining articles, photos, and videos available on oregon.gov to make a half-hour news show. To watch the latest My Oregon News video, click here.

BMTD primarily operates TV translators, bringing regional news and information to antenna TV viewers in a region with limited access to broadband. Beginning in march, BMTD collaborated with Sinclair Broadcast Group to add a digital subchannel to Portland’s Univision, KUNP, which operates its full-power station of origin on Mt. Fanny in Union County. The over-the-air station went live on November 16, available to view in northeast Oregon on KUNP 16-4 and the Willamette Valley on KUNP-LD 47-4. Blue Mountains Now is the first local over-the-air TV station to serve northeast Oregon since 1967.

“The top goal of launching a channel early was to provide local news and information to as many people as possible during the COVID-19 National Emergency,” says Alex McHaddad, BMTD’s executive director. “Between streaming and broadcasting over the air, we now provide local news and information to everyone in the Baker and Grande Ronde Valleys regardless of broadband access. We are excited to now use the over-the-air station to keep Willamette Valley residents informed of important information. And we cannot express our thanks enough to Sinclair Broadcast Group for seeing a need and partnering with us to fill it.”

Funding for the channel equipment came in part from the CARES Act, which enabled BMTD to purchase a playout system and emergency alert system. BMTD is excited to partner with governments and nonprofits in range of KUNP and KUNP-LD to provide important public information during the COVID-19 emergency. For more information, the District office can be contacted at 541-963-0196 or ​[email protected]​.

About Author

Alex manages the Blue Mountain Translator District, a telecommunications agency in Baker and Union Counties.

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