A studio-transmitter link (or STL) sends a radio station's or television station's audio and video from the broadcast studio to a radio transmitter or television transmitter in another location.
This is often necessary because the best locations for an antenna are on top of a mountain, where a much shorter tower is required, but where locating a studio may be impractical. Even in flat regions, the center of the station's allowed coverage area may not be near the studio location or may lie within a populated area where a transmitter would be frowned upon by the community, so the antenna must be placed at a distance from the studio.
Depending on the locations that must be connected, a station may choose either a point to point (PTP) link on another special radio frequency, or a newer all-digital wired link via a dedicated data transmission circuit. Radio links can also be digital, or the older analog type, or a hybrid of the two. Even on older all-analog systems, multiple audio and data channels can be sent using subcarriers.
Stations that employ an STL usually also have a transmitter-studio link (or TSL) to return telemetry information. Both the STL and TSL are considered broadcast auxiliary services (BAS).
- CFR Title 47: Telecommunication Part 74—Experimental Radio, Auxiliary, Special Broadcast and Other Program Distributional Services
- CFR Title 47: Telecommunication Chapter I—Federal Communications Commission Subchapter C—Part 73—Broadcast Radio Services
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