Monday, January 14, 2008

Some Random Items

Starting our week with, well, odd stuff that may or may not be related:

WBNX BLOG: It's actually been around for a while, but we only recently stumbled onto a local TV station getting into this blogging thing.

Cleveland market CW affiliate WBNX/55 Akron's blog is mostly full of promotion for the station's CW network programming, and the various syndicated programming aired by the station.

But there are a few local tidbits in there, and not just appearances by station-linked stars or locations of auditions somewhere in Ohio.

One thing we'd like to see the folks on State Road address: Why in the world has the station not gained any clearance, at all, for its digital signal on local cable TV?

Since WBNX-DT lit up last summer, the station's been putting a steady digital signal into homes all over Northeast Ohio, which offers all CW network HD programming - complete with Dolby 5.1 sound, we're told.

But the digital/HD version of WBNX has yet - as far as we know - to gain a clearance on a single local cable system including, most notably, the Time Warner Cable monolith that is basically a near-monopoly in WBNX's service area.

TWC's Cleveland system happily passes along even the DT2 signal of WUAB, the market's MyNetworkTV affiliate...which for months has offered no actual programming after the demise of "The Tube" video music service. We just checked again, and it's still broadcasting that text slate explaining the exit of "The Tube".

But WBNX-DT?

Nowhere to be found, despite the fact that a decent chunk of the station's network programming is offered in HD - and the younger, tech-savvy audience desired by the CW would probably enjoy the programming even more in high definition.

We'll hazard a guess here - that TWC's Cleveland and Akron/Canton area systems are pushed to the brim in capacity/bandwidth for HD stations. The last outlet added was TBS HD, which was useful for roughly two weeks as the carrier of the Major League Baseball playoffs.

TWC has made at least one move we figure may eventually allow more HD programming. On many of its area systems, including the former Adelphia system based in Cleveland, TWC migrated C-SPAN 2 into the digital cable world at channel 186. That removal of one analog channel would easily free up room for at least two HD networks.

And with DirecTV eating TWC's lunch when it comes to HD programming, the cable outlet is surely feeling the pressure.

The "final solution" for cable systems looking to add massive amounts of HD programming is probably a year or two away here in Northeast Ohio.

"Switched Digital Video" or "SDV" will allow cable operators to offer basically HD channels live "on demand"...in other words, they won't take bandwidth to your home unless you actively tune them in.

There's only one problem with this...new equipment. We presume that even once TWC deploys SDV here, they'll have to replace all the non-compliant cable boxes out there now, at least in the HDTV world.

And those who are lucky enough to own either the TiVo HD or TiVo Series 3 boxes will have to wait until sometime in the next year or so...when a reported device/dongle that makes them compatible with SDV systems will be made available.

The TV landscape will change dramatically in the next year, as broadcasters ready for February 17, 2009 - when all full-power analog signals go the way of the dodo bird. (See one of our earlier items for talk about the LPTV part of that equation...)

WUAB'S DT REPLACEMENT: We have absolutely no information on this being true, but we would not be surprised.

We have a hunch that at some point, WUAB/43 owner Raycom Media will climb onto the Retro Television Network bandwagon to program its second digital subchannels.

As noted above, WUAB-DT 43.2 is currently showing a really exciting program - the text slate informing viewers that the station had nothing to do with the demise of the former occupant of WUAB's second subchannel, music outlet "The Tube TV".

Meanwhile, other groups that were feeding "The Tube" via their subchannels have lined up with Equity Broadcasting, the group owner that is also owner of Retro Television Network, to carry the channel's "classic TV" programming.

In Ohio, Barrington Broadcasting NBC affiliate WNWO/24 "NBC24" Toledo offers RTN on its DT subchannel. The move was made after Raycom sold off WNWO after acquiring CBS powerhouse WTOL/11 in a group deal.

Not that terribly far from OMW's primary coverage area, Cox NBC affiliate WPXI/11 in Pittsburgh is an RTN affiliate.

We've seen the programming, and it's a pretty decent lineup of very popular TV shows from the 1960's, 1970s and 1980s.

Again, we have no word at this time that Raycom Media is even interested in such a deal. But it would be a natural replacement for WUAB-DT's second subchannel...

WHERE'S RONNIE?: And this is sort of linked to our first item.

An OMW reader over the weekend asked the question: Where did Ronnie Duncan go?

In addition to once being the morning drive host at Radio One talk WERE/1490 Cleveland Heights "The People's Station" (once at 1300), Ronnie also contributed sports material to WBNX - most recently seen on the station's website.

WERE moved in a different direction with a new local morning show ("Basheer Jones and Company"), and we can't find any mention of Duncan on WBNX's current website.

OMW has heard rumors that Ronnie may have returned to his native Baltimore MD, but a quick Google search hasn't unveiled him popping up at any media outlet there...

AND MORE ON RADIO ONE'S AM STATIONS: We don't have details, but sources tell OMW that there could be "some programming adjustments" involving Radio One's Cleveland AM stations - possibly taking effect as early as today.

The stations in question are the aforementioned WERE/1490, and gospel outlet WJMO/1300 Cleveland "Praise 1300".

WERE's lineup has consisted - after morning drive - of Radio One's "Syndication One" slate of syndicated talk show hosts. But the company has basically split apart that operation, with basically only the Rev. Al Sharpton's New York-based program left in the national lineup.

Over at WJMO, syndicated morning drive host Yolanda Adams - herself now under the "Syndication One" banner - had been followed by a new local midday show by WZAK's Grace Roberts. On the station's web page schedule, Roberts is no longer listed or pictured. Afternoon driver Ronny Knight is still there in both places.

As we reported earlier, WJMO program director Terry Bello is no longer with the company. Bello handled PD duties for "Praise 1300" in addition to his main job as midday host/APD/MD on WZAK...

4 comments:

Tellit said...

OMW Quote: "Why in the world has the station not gained any clearance, at all, for its digital signal on local cable TV?"

Actually they have gained clearance! The ever expanding AT&T U-Verse cable service does offer WBNX HD and has for some time now. And, from what I've found out from WBNX, they are certainly willing to get their HD signal on TW, so it's in TW's court now. If TW's equipment is outdated and they don't have enough space to carry more HD channels then first of all get rid of secondary channels like WUAB's worthless waste of space and at least get all the local main HD channels like CW. What is TW thinking?! Then they need to seriously step up efforts to get new equipment or AT&T will continue to chip away at their customer base (AT&T convinced me to switch in November with the simple fact that they carry all the local HD channels and TW doesn't).

Robert Leu said...

This is the first I've heard about WNWO switching to RTN. I know they stayed with The Tube until at least June of '07, but can't verify anything beyond that.

The Cool Man Star said...

I have three questions.

19 and 43 have only one newscast team? When did this happen?

I think that 43 should hire it's people and be move to Akron to start it own newscast there.

Next question the tub Network that had all that music on there why not use that channel for other things like kids programs and programs from 1970,1980,1990?

What city are At&t U-Verse offer? How good is the picture to TWC and DishNetwork and DirecTV who picture is better and sound?

I would like to see what other ideas are out there?

Tellit said...

AT&T U-verse's HD channels quality looks as good as Time Warner in my opinion. Dish Network doesn't yet carry all the local HD channels, nor does Direct. Besides, both are substandard HD quality compared to AT&T and TW cable (at least at this point).

As far as what cities AT&T U-verse is expanding to; I know it's in Stow where I am.

Obviously, Time Warner will eventually have the CW in HD (WBNX) once their negotiations on how much they (TW) have to pay for the rights are finished. AT&T already negotiated with all the local HD channels and have them all. It's good northeast Ohio will have two cable company choices to choose from once AT&T completes all their expansion.