Thursday, September 14, 2006

Less Than Helpful Corporate Siblings

We're just four days away from the debut of the second new TV network in the United States, and thousands of viewers in the Cincinnati market aren't sure they'll be able to see it.

After Sinclair WB affiliate WSTR/64 took an early ride on the MyNetworkTV Express (or maybe it's a limited stop local), and the new CW network took a pass on small independent UPN outlet WBQC-CA "UPN 38", CW landed on a new subchannel of Clear Channel CBS affiliate WKRC's digital be called "CinCW".

After years and years of watching WBQC fighting for whatever scraps Time Warner gave them for carriage - which eventually landed the low-power station a five hour prime-time clearance on cable channel 20 - local media observers felt WKRC would have an easier time of it.

After all, the "W" in "The CW" stands for Warner Brothers, a sister company to the cable system's parent, and co-owner of the network with CBS.

Think again.

While it still seems likely that SOME carriage of "CinCW" will happen on TWC's dominant Cincinnati system by the Monday debut, the local cable operation is not making it easy for the affiliate of its corporate cousin. Both sides told Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio writer John Kiesewetter this week that they're "optimistic" that something will be worked out by the network's first bow.

But the problem WKRC has in Cincinnati with "CinCW" is actually the same problem Youngstown ABC affiliate WYTV/33 is seeing with Time Warner Cable there, trying to get more prominent carriage of its new "My YTV" subchannel.

WYTV is pushing to get "My YTV" on an analog basic cable channel, where Time Warner has placed it on digital 534 - next to WYTV's HDTV feed at 533. We reported earlier a campaign by WYTV, urging viewers to call TWC's Youngstown and Warren offices to ask for an analog channel for their new sister station.

But in Cincinnati, there's that Time Warner-Warner Brothers connection.

Though Clear Channel actually owns the affiliate, one would think there'd be corporate pressure to bear... since WKRC's "CinCW" is one of very few large market digital CW outlets, and they certainly need viewers to be able to find it easily. And the station has lost valuable promotional time in the buildup to the CW launch next week.

Up I-71 and I-90 from Ohio's Queen City, Time Warner actually owns the cable-only WB-to-CW outlet in Rochester NY, "WRWB".

Tie that in with the likelihood that TWC will hand off the former "WB 16" to Clear Channel to run as a sister station to Rochester ABC affiliate WHAM-TV/13 - as reported by our friend and colleague Scott Fybush's NorthEast Radio Watch - and you have to wonder why the two companies can't figure something out in Cincinnati.

We know from experience that national corporate mandates in broadcasting often get slowed down by strong local management. But in this case, it would appear to be a key piece of the puzzle that the "W" in CW needs to solve...and Kiesewetter's item seems to indicate that the final call will be made by the TWC national corporate office.

Oh, and poor Elliott Block.

The WBQC owner will get his low-power outlet thrown up into high digital cable channel territory on the Cincinnati area Insight systems when "CinCW" takes over channel 25. And he's likely to lose his part-time slot on Time Warner cable channel 20 as well, no matter what happens to the new CW outlet.

Meanwhile, CW viewers in the northern end of the Cincinnati market may turn to Dayton's WBDT/26 instead...and they'll have to do so if they have no cable, satellite or digital TV tuner...


Anonymous said...

I am not shocked that this is happening. If you think about it and what Time Warner is about it is $$$ that drives this division of time warner. Cin CW cannot make them as much money as compaired to a cable network and this is why it is not there. For TWC it is about DIGITAL CABLE,DIGITAL PHONE, AND ROAD RUNNER INTERNET. Besides if this was a CWPlus outlet then great but since it is nothing more than a local clear channel sub carrier who cares. I have seen the line up and it looks the same dull line up like most new sub carrier start ups with the execption of party of five reruns weekday it the same old shows. I think TWC is doing this to so it can place it on their digital cable line-up so they can make more money. BTW why is WKRC producing a news for WSTR and not cin CW anyway? It just seems strange unless they are think of buying ch 64 if sinclair was trying to sell it.

I have a question could Dayton's CW 26 be moved into the Cinci market or would there be interference? I also noticed that Dayton's former UPN 17 is still on cable but off WHLO's subcarrier. Could WHLO run the station as a local independent on WHLO's subchannel that double runs all of ch 7's programs or run the I network as oposed to a full blown network station?

Anonymous said...

Wow...there are so many sides to blame here that I don't even know where to begin.

Here it goes....

First, I blame Sinclair Broadcast for being so cheap in giving WSTR-TV/64 to MyNetworkTV instead of The CW. No one here wants to see this telenovela crap. Cincinnati does not have a huge Hispanic population...who are the most likely in watching this garbage. Perhaps David Smith should've studied the demos and took in consideration that people here are more likely wanting to watch former WB and UPN shows.

Second, I blame CW network for their high standards in reverse compensation to make Sinclair go against them. Not only that, but affiliate with local CBS station under a subchannel that damages CBS' main HD signal. Test patterns running now for soon CW subchannel has already deteriorated CBS' HD signal. Ugh!

And lastly, I blame local Time Warner in Cincinnati for being so low in not giving the CW to us viewers when they know their corporate company owns 50% of the network. This should not be a problem.

Just like so many have said, hopefully the BIG corporate high TW executives and Warner Bros. execs will see the situation here in Cincy and stop this nonsense once and for all and force local TW to put it on a basic tier channel. This is getting ridiculous

And hopefully in a few years Sinclair will realize its mistake and affiliate WSTR-TV/64 with The CW when it's contract is up with MyNetworkTV...if it even last that long on the air.

Does anyone know how long WSTR-TV/Sinclair contract is up with MyNetworkTV?

Ratings for MyNetworkTV are TERRIBLE already. Good for them! Hopefully, Sinclair and head manager David Smith will learn their lesson next time in not being so cheap and accept the CW's terms of affiliation.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 100% but Sincrap's decision to go with my joke net was because the Smith family felt that it would be a dis-service to pay for a network with potiental. Just like Alabama's version of a cheap broadcaster Raycom media has the same general consensus in this reguard. I am not for sure but I am guessing at least for as long as fox is willing to give this useless trash a chance.

MY Network TV was and is designed to be a cheap and quick fix to filling 2 hours of prime time that FOX could not of done on their own and everyone else just joined in for fun. Sincrap, Raycom, CBS, Tribune, cheap channel, and hell even WYTV here in Youngstown see this as free programming that they can use to either stay on cable or to find a way onto cable via a second digital programming service.

WYTV for example uses My-YTV as a promotional tool for WYTV, local rebroadcast, and a place to air preempted ABC programming moreso than an actual MY Network TV affiliate. This is proof in that they seldom air promos for my network TV and instead airs those damn PSA's and promos for its programming outside of the 8-10 PM time peroid.

CBS believes that the consumer SHOULD have to pay for the privilege to see what they like. By using reverse compensation, CBS thinks they can blackmale local stations into carring their programming and by having small station groups as oposed to larger station affiliation groups they can accomplish more profit and higher ratings. But what CBS (the ones who is really in control of the cw) doesn't know is this stragdy will backfire on them in that if the cw has poor ratings or if my network tv can become a sucess they will lose affiliates left and right.

CBS thought that WKRC would be able to provide the cw with a full power OTA digital signal in a medium-sized market. What CBS did not think though was the fact that cin cw would be getting the scaps left over that the other stations did not want, no local news (WKRC produces a 10 o'clock news on my 64), and no HD whatsoever. They felt that ch 38 was substandard and inferior to what they thought and assume was a better deal and as a result was wrong and will at some point pay for this case of poor judgement.

Anonymous said...

"UPN 17" in Dayton is going away was cable-only and never was on a WHIO subchannel as far as I know. WHIO used to run an SD simulcast subchannel but that was it. WHIO and TWC couldn't come to a new contract agreement to keep UPN 17 running. I think they bid on putting the CW on there but lost out to Ch. 26, and at that point decided it wasn't worth it anymore.

Morgan Wick said...

I too, hope Sinclair bashes their heads against the wall soon, if they're not already, over this mess. A while back I was surprised to find an outdated call to the CW not to affiliate with Sinclair because of their oh-so-wonderful track record... which is kind of funny in retrospect, since Sinclair took care of that themselves!

What is up with TWC in Cincinatti? They give Block a tiny window to put UPN programming - on what's otherwise an infomercial channel? They might not put the CW on that channel at all? It seems like that channel is just wasting space to me. Are they that desperate for the infomercial revenue?

Anonymous said...

Well, luckily, there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel. Reports are coming in that WKRC and Time Warner Cable have came up with a last minute deal and Time Warner will be carrying CinCW this Monday according to a Time Warner spokeswoman. It is still not known on what channel though

Morgan Wick said...

Some insight and context into the "TimeWarner Cable cracking down on subchannel affiliates of its own network" thing. According to this (among other things), TimeWarner is really playing hardball with the other partner with the CW in anticipation of CBS playing hardball with them.

It also says Clear Channel's deal for CinCW coverage is the only case thus far where the station has actually agreed to pay TWC.