Saturday, May 20, 2006

A Three Tier HDTV Update

Our apologies for being gone for a day or two here at OMW. Not only are we busy enjoying weekend activities with some out-of-town friends who are in Northeast Ohio through tomorrow, but the palatial OMW World Headquarters was without power for the better part of Friday night into Saturday morning! And only the OMW World Headquarters, and about 34 other unlucky neighboring souls. All's back to normal, now.

UPDATE LEVEL 1: A clarification to our earlier item, suggesting that Cleveland market WB-to-become-CW affiliate WBNX/55 may not have its digital signal over the air until Spring 2007. Don't blame us...blame whoever answers the WBNX feedback E-Mail for this directly quoted answer, received by our OMW tipster as a reply to a message asking them about their digital situation in the wake of the approval of the WBNX-DT construction permit:

Thank you for your feedback. An antenna has to still be designed and built at our transmitter site. Spring of 2007 is a likely date. Thank you for watching wbnx-tv!

The information did NOT come from WUAB/43 or another competitor, and we thought we made that clear in the initial item. It came directly from the keyboard of whoever answers the "vwrfdbk" E-Mail address at "wbnx.com"...it's the link you see on their web page under "Viewer Feedback". We did not pull this out of the air, folks. We did not make this up. It was not planted by a competing station.

If indeed WBNX is actively constructing its over-air digital facility and aiming to get The CW on the air in HDTV by this fall (or for that matter, whatever The WB runs in the summer in HDTV), someone better tell whoever answers their E-Mail to provide the correct answers to viewers. We understand WBNX is advertising their upcoming digital capability on air, but we have yet to see that in occasional watching of the station the past few days...and their "trends" web page has yet to be updated.

Quite frankly, the E-Mail we've been forwarded above didn't make a lot of sense to us, but it was (presumably) from a station employee charged with answering viewer E-Mail. (It would not be the first time that such an event has occurred, depending on what kind of attention a station pays to its incoming viewer E-Mail.)

We will attempt to get a straight answer from WBNX, and will post it here when we do receive that answer.

UPDATE LEVEL 2: WNEO/WEAO "PBS 45 & 49" programming and operations director Don Freeman weighs in on the digital TV situation at the Kent-based PBS affiliate. Freeman tells a home theater/HDTV hobbyist website about the station's travails with aging digital encoding equipment and automation interfacing, which have prompted some unwanted changes on the WNEO-DT/WEAO-DT signals:

Our first generation digital encoding equipment is showing its age. The unit has limitations and those, combined with our incompatible automation system interface, limit what the station can deliver. That's why the Information & Education Channel (CPB/Annenberg) has temporarily been discontinued. That is also why, after 6 months of effort, we are TEMPORARILY de-listing our HD service. That is also why we've made considerable changes to our 2am-5 am primary channel service.

We have been expecting funds from a federal grant to upgrade our automation system since September. We are now spending considerable time reviewing replacement mux and encoding equipment. But we are not abandoning HD as one of the significant broadcast streams in our future.

When we get all the pieces-parts together HD will be on the air again. I, for one, can hardly wait.

Don Freeman
Director of Programming and Operations

UPDATE LEVEL 3: Over in the Youngstown market, CBS affiliate WKBN/27's digital/HDTV signal is now available via Armstrong Cable channel 104. And sister WYFX-LP/62-WFXI-CA/17, better known as "FOX 17/62", is also available in digital format AND with FOX HD programming on Armstrong Cable channel 105.

Since FOX 17/62 can't literally do any better digitally over-the-air than an SD subchannel of WKBN-DT 41, the FOX HDTV feed is being sent via fiber optic from WKBN to Armstrong (as is the CBS HDTV feed).

There's no word on if Time Warner Cable, the other major Youngstown/Warren market operator, will add these feeds...

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

after visiting the WBNX'S movive page http://www.wbnx.com/movies.htm it says reruns of Friend's will air at 10 pm. If this is the case what will happen to the 90 and 9 club. Kind of strange that Ernie would allow his show to get moved for a rerun. BTW I can recall about 2 years ago on their local show heart to heart with annie and al they brought up digital tv and hinted at their plans on how they could air multipe programs on each sub channel. I wonder if this is the path they will take since they have the rights to so many reruns and movies.

Stephanie said...

It seems like WBNX has taken almost everything away from WUAB. All the best of UPN along with Friends is headed for WBNX, Cleveland's new CW affiliate. I guess WUAB will just air more infomercials. Of course, they still have the Cavs, at least for now. And let's not forget WUAB has 19 Action News! I wonder when WUAB will not just be The Block, but on the block (for sale that is).

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of being able to see Friends at 10PM. Most of the other networks either have crime dramas or boring local news. It's about time someone gave us a sitcom or two at that hour. Sometimes you just want to sit back and relax. I get enough tension viewing between 8 and 10PM with Lost, 24 , etc. Does anyone know when Friends will be on at 10? I guess I should check out their website. Dah.

Ohio Media Watch said...

We've visited the WBNX website, including that "Movies" page, and see no reference to 55 airing "Friends" reruns at 10 PM.

We know they'd snagged the rights to the "Friends" reruns from WOIO/WUAB, but haven't seen any evidence yet that they'd run at 10.

That would be a very, very good move, in our humble opinion. Like others, we're surprised that Rev. Angley would move his "90 and 9 Club" out of prime-time, but he's moved it once before...when the station first picked up The WB.

We'll be on the lookout for more on this.

-OMW

Anonymous said...

here is a copy of the picture that gives the time of friends http://www.wbnx.com/images/ads/120x600_frnds_hm_cast.jpg

Anonymous said...

The actual banner ad that announces the time of friends moves from page to page but the last it was seen it was on the main page. The above post was where the picture is located but it does not display the picture but it is there somewhere sorry for the wrong url.

Anonymous said...

I believe there was a banner ad on one of their web pages which mentioned Friends at 10PM beginning in June, but those ads seem to change between page visits. Not always the same ad each time you click a page.

Edward said...

I heard Rev. Angley say on his program last week that in the near future he would have a seperate digital sub channel, besides WBNX's digital channel with The CW programming. So that's probably why he agreed to the prime change. He said his program would still be on in the morning on WBNX, which is when he does some of them live anyhow. Sounds like a good plan for all viewers in general. I hope our local cable companies will be made to carry all the local sub-channels from all the stations in this area. More selection and diversity is always a plus.

Anonymous said...

Lets hope this is true because if it is then maybe they will start a independent like channel with classic tv shows,movies, and sports. I do recall that a couple of years of ago on their heart to heart show they hinted at the idea of having different shows on the sub channels when they discussed WBNX's future digital tv station. Also is this a sign that maybe at some point in thre future they go and try to buy a news from either ch 3 or 5? Just a thought.I heard that they own a couple of low power tv stations. If this is true then maybe they will start a second station and put it on the sub channel along with the 90 and 9 club. I we are lucky maybe the people of NE Ohio will finally recieve a independent tv station in some form if not though a sub channel on ch 55 maybe though ch 67. Let keep our fingers crossed.

Anonymous said...

With ch 43 losing every program and ch 55 buying according to jim and george lopaz for this fall what does ch 43 have left? It seems they are very quickly running low on prgramming options? Even the Andy Griffith show has no place on weekdays anymore. With ch 19 having so much local news, what is left?

Anonymous said...

Yes armstrong cable in Youngstown has put WKBN and WYFX HD up and it looks great. I heard WBCB will be getting its own channel as well. WYTV at one time was going to start a sub channel of their own (which broadcasting cable had a story on this about 2 and a half years ago) but sadly has not. I know they are cheap and they have to squeeze every penney (this is why they sign off at 2:06 am every weeknite 1:35 on the weekend) but they could at least try something. Come June 11th they will need to find a new program at 5:30 because Friends is moving to WBCB at 7:30 and they will have another time slot to fill.