For whatever reason, all the stuff in our "hold file" has to do with local television...so, let's turn on the Virtual OMW Tube:
TWC AKRON/CANTON CHANGES: This one, oddly enough, comes from one of the newest additions to our left-hand side links section...WKYC/3's "Director's Cut" blog, brought to you with care by WKYC News senior producer/director Frank Macek.
Frank tells us that WKYC's "Akron/Canton News" returns to Time Warner Cable's cable channel 23, after being bounced around to channel 17 or 96 due to the full-time presence of the Indians-run sports network SportsTime Ohio on 23.
That means STO is moving to its own dedicated channel - 76, says Mr. Macek - for this reason:
"...in preparation for the launch of a new local Channel on 23, which will include the Akron Canton News in it's daily lineup."
Hmm. Is this a feline creature being let out of its paper sack enclosure a bit early? We ask, because...
TWC PRESSER: OMW's now on the official press release list for the aforementioned Time Warner Cable, and we've been notified of a press conference Wednesday titled "Time Warner: Status in Greater Cleveland". Quoting the invite:
With 180 days as Greater Cleveland’s new cable operator, Time Warner Cable has celebrated success and overcome challenges. For Time Warner Cable customers and employees, the future offers continued opportunity.
We doubt they'd go to the trouble of dragging everyone up there on Wednesday if they're just saying "hey, it's cool we've been at this for six months!". But we have no other information than the brief press conference announcement.
So, we enter speculation mode here.
Is this the announcement that TWC is finally going to standardize lineups between the former Adelphia and Comcast systems in the Cleveland area, and the long-incumbent Akron/Canton lineups? (Yes, we know the Akron and Canton lineups are not 100% identical, but they're close.)
And would the aforementioned "local channel 23" be part of this announcement? TWC certainly has enough material to do it. The former Adelphia and Comcast systems offer local programming like "More Sports and Les Levine" and "The Midnight Movie" and could probably fill out a channel with the stuff TWC airs out of Akron/Canton.
We also wonder what other role WKYC plays in this...if, perhaps, repeats of WKYC-based Cleveland newscasts could join the station's "Akron/Canton News" on the new local channel as the system consolidates. And of course, such a move would finally deliver that newscast to the former Adelphia subscribers in Summit County's western and northwestern reaches.
For his part, WKYC's Macek on "Director's Cut" says he hasn't heard of such plans, or plans to put the Akron/Canton Newscast on the ex-Comcast systems, but is "hopeful".
Almost all of this is our own educated guessing/speculation, but we wouldn't be surprised if much of it came true on Wednesday. We can't be at the press conference, but we've requested that the relevant announcements be sent to us...
45/49'S HD: Those looking for PBS in HD in Northeast Ohio are surprisingly limited in their options.
Cleveland's WVIZ/25 has had a long-time battle to get its full-power digital TV transmitter going from the analog site in North Royalton. The site is owned by CBS Radio (WNCX/98.5), and we've heard in the past that there have even been legal issues and a dispute between the two broadcasters.
We haven't heard why that has dragged on into 2007. For now, those looking for PBS HD out of WVIZ either have to use antenna firepower to pick up a small, temporary setup out of the station's former Brookpark Road facility, or tune to Time Warner Cable (ex-Adelphia) 710.
Out of Akron, WNEO/WEAO-45/49 ran PBS HD when the stations' digital signals first went live...but stopped at some point. The station has since been gathering the federal grant money and preparing to return to running the HD feed on WEAO-DT and WNEO-DT.
But...equipment is still getting in the way. PBS 45 & 49's Don Freeman explains on a local forum dedicated to HDTV:
Our first generation automation software, server hardware and digital encoder are incompatible with the upgraded automation software. We can't insert anything into the digital HD stream we receive from PBS, or record any of those programs for later use, until we get the new software.
Without making those insertions, or having the programs air from our servers, we can't broadcast the PBS-HD programs. We'll be shopping at the NAB show in April, money in hand, and fully expect to have our decisions made, equipment ordered and installed by the beginning of our next fiscal year, July 1, 2007.
How's that for "official information"? Hats off to Mr. Freeman and the folks at the Kent-based public TV station...
AND NO INFORMATION: Meanwhile, compare that to the website of local CW affiliate WBNX/55.
You know, the station which said it would try to put up a digital/HD signal to local cable stations and satellite providers "by the end of October 2006", with an over-air signal from WBNX-DT by about April of this year?
The "trends" section of WBNX's website contains...the exact same wording. In February, 2007!
We've never had much success getting any information out of WBNX on this. They've never responded to our queries of any sort, and we've never been able to corner any station officials to answer this "live".
We know WBNX's Lou Spangler told Akron Beacon Journal TV writer R.D. Heldenfels that they were having some technical glitches in trying to ready the HDTV feed for cable. But...that was months ago.
Meanwhile, fans of CW shows like "Veronica Mars", "Everybody Hates Chris" and the like have missed out on their shows in HDTV for the fall season, at least through now...and likely the entire way, unless a WBNX HD cable feed is about to light up soon.
For a market that's advanced enough to have three out of four local TV news operations in HDTV, not having ANY digital signal out of the local CW network affiliate is odd...
AND SPEAKING OF HD NEWS: We don't have anything solid on this, but the local TV rumor mill is piping up on that fourth station converting to HDTV local newscasts.
Rumblings are going around the market that engineers at Raycom Media CBS/MyNet combo WOIO/19-WUAB/43's "19 Action News" are going full-tilt this month, readying the station for conversion of its newscasts to HD format.
We hear they're aiming for the end of this month for a launch.
With that conversion, local news-wise only the WKYC-produced "Akron/Canton News" will not be in HDTV, unless that's in the future as well.
Oh, and there's the local news operation of Mansfield independent WMFD/68, which is technically in the Cleveland TV market...