Freedom Tower’s Broadcast Deal Has Collapsed

A deal to broadcast 11 stations from atop the planned Freedom Tower has fallen apart, seemingly bringing to a close years of negotiations. According to multiple people familiar with discussions, the Metropolitan Television Alliance, a consortium of local television stations, last month informed the Port Authority that it would not be proceeding with a deal for its members to broadcast from an antenna atop the 102-story tower at the World Trade Center site.

The collapse of the deal further strains the finances of the Port Authority at the Lower Manhattan site, as a basic agreement struck with the MTVA in 2003 called for an annual rent of about $10 million, on top of a $20 million payment to build the antenna. The Port Authority owns the site and is building the Skidmore Owings & Merrill-designed Freedom Tower, known officially as 1 World Trade Center.

The agency is now considering whether to build a less costly antenna—the price was north of $20 million—with the hopes of striking a new deal later on, or to build a spire that has an aesthetic function alone. Antenna deal or not, the agency still plans for a spire atop the $3.1 billion tower to bring the building to its symbolic height of 1,776 feet.

“This continues to be part of the design,” Stephen Sigmund, a Port Authority spokesman, said of the 408-foot spire. 

The formation of the MTVA, along with the plan to put an antenna atop the skyscraper, came after numerous stations went black following the attacks of September 11, 2001, when the city’s main television broadcast antenna went down with World Trade Center Tower 1.

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Freedom Tower’s Broadcast Deal Has Collapsed