‘Hot’ transmitters keep AFN radio Naples off-air
NAPLES, Italy — American Forces Network radio in Naples remains out of commission while the U.S. Consulate and AFN officials lobby for Italian approval to use new transmitters.
The transmitters are atop Collina dei Camaldoli, Naples’ highest point, where numerous other radio, television and cell phone towers also are located.
The site is "hot [with electromagnetic field emissions], and there have been many complaints from residents in the area," according to Giuseppe D’Antonio, with Agenzia Regionale Protezione Ambientale Campania, the regional equivalent of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
While the AFN transmitters did test below emission limits set by the Italian government, the collective readings on the hilltop exceed safe levels, D’Antonio said.
"I cannot, in good conscience, approve not even one more," he said.
Last week, U.S. and Italian officials met to try to seek a resolution that would let the only English-speaking radio station in Naples back on the air. AFN officials have resubmitted paperwork and testing results, and the U.S. has asked for a temporary OK to broadcast while a long-term solution is sought.
The radio signal went silent April 27, when AFN ended a long-standing contract to broadcast from a tower at the monastery on Camaldoli.
Gearing up for the move from one tower to another — a mere couple hundred feet — AFN contracted with Italian state-run station RAI to use an existing tower for upgraded transmitters, off monastery property but still atop Camaldoli.
The site, which at 1,482 feet, is the highest point in Naples and prime real estate from which stations broadcast unimpeded signals.
Theoretically, while AFN could search for another less-controversial location, the Camaldoli elevation is ideal for unobstructed broadcasting, and AFN already has spent more than $300,000 to remove the old transmitters from the monastery, purchase and install the new transmitters at the RAI site, and to operate the new transmitters for the first year, said Maj. Tom Bryant, senior commander of AFN operations in Italy.
AFN’s authority to broadcast is granted under the terms of a bilateral agreement signed in 1982 by Italian and the U.S. governments.
AFN TV programming has not been affected, and people with access to TV can listen to the radio programs. Base residents can listen to 106 FM on the television’s program guide channel, and those with AFN decoders off base can listen to 106 FM on channel 182, and 107 FM on channel 183.