Fallon County has Free T.V.

When Fallon County’s Mid-Rivers Telephone Cooperative pulled the plug on its cable television services on Nov. 30, many area residents signed up for Direct or Dish TV. 

By Sherry Vogel

   When Fallon County’s Mid-Rivers Telephone Cooperative pulled the plug on its cable television services on Nov. 30, many area residents signed up for Direct or Dish TV.  Basic packages from these companies are running around $60 a month while others are paying as much as $200 plus a month for extended packages.

   Knowing that you do enjoy watching a little TV once in a while, but not sure whether you want to have  another monthly payment obligation, there may be another alternative.

   Good news! Baker, Plevna and the surrounding areas have access to over 15 TV channels for free. Yes, that’s right… FREE monthly T.V. service. This service is partially federally funded   in conjunction with Fallon County taxpayers’ dollars as Baker residents pay $6 a year as part of their property taxes and Plevna, due to its smaller population, pays $20 a year for this service.

   Established back in the 1950’s the Baker and Plevna TV booster Clubs were formed. The groups formed to facilitate receiving signals from TV stations in larger cities, such as Glendive, Miles City, Billings, Dickinson, and Rapid City. The Fallon County booster clubs which are now known as the Baker and Plevna TV board, retransmit the signals to local towers which then have a direct signal to individual homes in the area.

   With just a simple TV antenna, area residents have the ability to receive 15 free TV channels in Baker and 12 free TV channels in Plevna. The number of channels you will be able to pick up depends on your location in proximity to three county TV towers, to what type of antenna you’re using and the direction the antenna is pointing.

   One of the two towers is located on Brackett Butte located 7 miles SW of Baker. The other tower is called Oilfield Tower and is located one mile further west of the Brackett Butte Tower. The third tower, Plevna Tower, is located south of Plevna.

   Fifty percent of the fifteen channels are accessed pointing toward Brackett Butte, while four other PBS and three Dickinson channels are accessed through the Oilfield Tower. The three Dickinson channels are not available in Plevna. A single antenna on a home may be able to receive signals from both Baker Towers if positioned correctly.

   Wayne Mangold, Plevna TV board member, shared, “Because these signals are through the air, users should understand that there may be interference from weather and obstacles that may block the signals such as hills, dirt mounds or buildings.”

   Mangold, of Plevna, and Chuck Lee, of Baker, are the only two members sitting on the TV board for the county, although the boards were established to have three members on Baker’s board and three members on Plevna’s board. The two men welcome anyone desiring to join them on this board as the need grows in the county to establish better TV entertainment for area residents.

   The board works closely with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and is in the process of acquiring two more local channels. They are seeking to have one of the channels be a weather channel and are in the process of discovery to select what  type of channel  will best meet the desires of the greater number of residents in Fallon County.

   Many residents haven’t a clue of how to get set up with Fallon County’s free TV stations. Wayne Mangold , TV board member, feels he would like to help anyone who has questions or might need assistance setting up their antennas. He has available to the public for one time cost of $60, a number of antennas he purchased on line that he knows work well in this area. Additional cost for cable, brackets or setup may be needed.

   If you have any questions please contact Wayne Mangold at waynem@midrivers.com  or leave a message at (406) 772-5831.