Transmission of HBO's popular "Game of Thrones" series and other shows on the cable network could be affected if Smithtown officials approve plans for an overlay district that would raise building heights near the network's only communications center.
The center, which is in the Hauppauge Industrial Park, delivers content to distributors that transmit it to about 122 million HBO and Cinemax subscribers worldwide.
HBO officials have asked the town board to delay a vote on adopting the overlay district until they review HBO's report, which was submitted Sunday. The report identifies one property south of HBO's Hauppauge communications center, at 300 New Highway, that could cause interference.See also2013 Smithtown payrolls
"It's really about any potential building not blocking the transmission of HBO's services," Jeff Cusson, HBO's senior vice president of corporate affairs, said in an interview. "The skyline has to be clear to the satellite."
The proposed overlay district would change zoning to allow for parking garages, outdoor storage and increases in building height to 50 feet in designated areas from the current 35 feet. Town planning officials have said the changes are expected to increase property values and encourage job growth in the 1,400-acre park.
In a June 1 letter to the town board, HBO's Melville-based attorney, Janice Whelan Shea, originally requested that the overlay district exclude seven properties along the perimeter of the communications center.
Stefan Petrat, HBO's senior vice president of media operations and engineering, said in an affidavit that the network is "dependent upon satellite delivery" and "obtaining and maintaining a clear line of site . . . is imperative."
The communications center was constructed in 1983 and supports satellite delivery of 26 HBO and Cinemax services. It also stores and distributes the network's HBO NOW streaming service, and, in the event of a disaster, services its sister company Turner Broadcasting System, which includes CNN, TNT, TBS and The Cartoon Network, he said.
Smithtown councilman Thomas McCarthy, a liaison to the industrial park, said the town will have a communications firm evaluate HBO's analysis, but noted that the company could have voiced objections since 2013, when plans emerged.
McCarthy said he didn't understand HBO's objections, considering that perimeter trees surrounding HBO are about as tall as the proposed building heights. He suggested that HBO discuss its concerns with its neighbors in the park.
"We appreciate HBO being a premiere tenant in the industrial park, but we shouldn't be taking other businesses' rights away for a bigger company," he said. "If these buildings are going to interfere with HBO, they should negotiate with their neighbors to buy their aerial rights."
Shea declined to comment in an interview last week, but she did address the issue at a June 2 town board meeting.
"We understand that this request could impede on people's development rights, that the town wants to see this overlay district put forward. We don't want to bother any more of our neighbors than are absolutely necessary," she said.