Radar in Vardø spoils TV reception

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Residents of Norway’s northern city of Vardø have been plagued by the new “hush-hush” Globus II radar system mounted by US and Norwegian defense and intelligence services. It interferes badly with its neighbours’ TV reception.

The huge radar installations that tower over Vardø can be seen from all over town. They’ve raised concerns and complaints. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

Arnt Edmund Jensen is among those bothered by poor reception and distorted pictures on his television screen. The problems began around two to three years ago, and reception often seems worst during prime time programs on Saturday evenings.

“I bought a brand new parabol, installed by professionals and mounted as it should be,” Jensen told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). He thought his old equipment was to blame, or old cables.

The problems didn’t go away, so he called Norway’s national communications authority (Nasjonal kommunikasjonsmyndighet) for help. They confirmed that the frequency area for the new defense authorities’ radar systems lie near the television’s satellite receiver.

“I asked what I should do,” Jensen said. “I was told to contact those responsible for the bad signals.”

Concerns and complaints have cropped up earlier in connection with the Vardø radar that towers over the Arctic settlement with a population of around 2,500. Jensen told NRK that officials at both the military and Norway’s military intelligence agency (Etterretningstjenesten) told him that they had provided funding to the local government in Vardø to cover the costs of installing fiber cables to solve reception problems.

When he sent a letter to the local authorities in Vardø, however, he was told it would take up to half a year to review his case. Now they also say they won’t approve his application for funding because it was depleted after 159 other households appealed for help with poor TV reception. Jensen, they said, applied too late.

They claim they’d printed public notices of the available funding in the local newspaper but he missed them. John-Eivind Velure at the national communications authority said he’s aware of the trouble caused by the radar disturbing TV reception and seems quite sure it’s the source of Jensen’s frustration.

Velure claims the defense department (Forsvaret) is responsible and urged Jensen to contact them again for help. “There’s an obligation for the defense department to look into the problem and try to find a solution,” Velure told NRK. “If they don’t settle this, we can try to look into the problem more closely.” NRK reported it was unable to obtain comment from Norway’s intelligence agency, which has cooperated with its American counterparts to set up what’s viewed as a radar system important for natonal security.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund