Monday, May 19, 2008

Monday Updates And Corrections

We're just going off on a tangent or three here, and there may not be any connecting thread. This is just stuff that's been piling up in the Collective Mind here at the Mighty Blog of Fun(tm)...

SANE: Not really much to update here, but it appears the announcement of the arrival of incoming VP/general manager Victoria Regan at Scripps ABC affiliate WEWS/5 Cleveland was well received.

OMW hears that when announcing her appointment at 3001 Euclid, Scripps bosses used the word "sane" more than once to refer to Regan's management style.

"Sane" or not, management-wise, Ms. Regan has a lot on her plate. "NewsChannel 5"'s newsroom has been something of a revolving door as of late, with some high-profile departures and new folks coming in to replace them from parts all over.

There are other things, but Scripps isn't paying us consulting fees...

TIME WARNER UPDATE: This is all anecdotal.

But it would appear that the bulk of the lineup conversions have been done at least in the Cleveland/Akron/Canton part of Time Warner Cable's Northeast Ohio territory.

OMW has heard from readers who live in areas such as parts of the former Adelphia Western Reserve territory in Northern Summit County - and in at least the Elyria-based part of the former Comcast territory...the digital channel realignment has reached those parts of TWC's Northeast Ohio empire. We've also heard from at least one reader in those sections of the TWC empire, saying it hasn't happened for them, yet.

We'll use this space to ask you to E-Mail us, if you're in a Time Warner area without the new digital channel lineup. For one, we don't know if the folks over in Youngstown/Warren, or Western Pennsylvania, have seen the new lineup yet...

WHILE WE'RE IN DIGITAL CABLE LAND: It appears one small local cable operator will become the first "all-digital" cable system in the region.

MultiChannel News and the Canton Repository report that Massillon Cable and sister Clear Picture in Wooster will make the conversion on the same date as the over-air digital TV conversion, February 17, 2009.

(There's no connection between the two events, but the local system's Bob Gessner tells the trade magazine that the date will allow them to piggyback on the awareness of the OTA conversion.)

Massillon Cable and Clear Picture will deploy a whole bunch of special lower-cost, limited feature digital-to-analog converter boxes expressly designed for this sort of thing. We guess they could be considered the cable equivalent of the OTA boxes being sold now, as long as Massillon Cable is riding along with the OTA deadline, at least.

Though the FCC standards require CableCard-equipped boxes, Massillon Cable and at least one other small operator have gotten an FCC waiver for this purpose.

The system says it's making the box move to free up analog bandwidth, so it can add more HD channels in the future.

It's also making the low-end converter boxes free for about a year (at least for a certain number of boxes per home), and according to the article, plans to charge 25 cents a month for box and remote after that...

CONVERSION UPDATE: OMW was scolded a bit when we posted that Canada has no digital TV conversion plan.

The topic came up when we mentioned that Raycom CBS affiliate WOIO/19 in the Cleveland market would become the worst major digital signal in the market when WKYC/3 and WVIZ/25 camp out on that new tower to be built at the WKYC Parma facility. That comes, in part, due to the presence of powerful CFPL-TV 10 across Lake Erie in London, Ontario, an analog station on the same channel as WOIO's digital facility.

A reader says we should have hit Google before we said Canada didn't have a digital transition plan, and helpfully provided us with that information - which we found linked here as well. Quoting from the CRTC:

Television licensees will be authorized to broadcast only digital OTA signals after 31 August 2011, although exceptions may be made in northern and remote communities where analog transmissions will not cause interference.

We're surprised we never picked up on that. Your Primary Editorial Voice(tm) keeps his eyes and ears on Canada, and you'd think we'd have remembered that story (which is why we didn't look).

So, CFPL will eventually go digital.

The only question we have - on what channel? According to various databases, CFPL's digital side - presumably not operating in any form right now - is allocated to channel 57.

That channel is out of core in the United States. We haven't been able to find out if stations in Canada will be using those allocations at the 2011 transition date, or if, for example, CFPL could petition for digital on 10.

And if they did, would they have to coordinate, or not, with the U.S. (and in this case, WOIO-DT), as a new allocation?

No matter what, it would appear that the result of the final answer to all that still means that CFPL sits on analog 10 through matter what...

SO LONG, FRANCE: That "France" would be one Mr. Jeff France, aka "Franceman", who is on the beach.

No, not on Lake Erie, but no longer employed as morning co-host on Toledo Cumulus hot AC WWWM/105.5 "Star 105.5". OMW hears that word came down - officially - of his exit Friday evening.

We're reminded of one other thing - that the Cumulus deal to go private is now dead, per a number of trade media reports last week. We'll assume that means the two Cumulus Toledo stations tabbed for spinoff do not need to exit the company...

AND WHILE WE'RE IN TOLEDO: A tip of the hat to our latest newspaper writer/OMW reader, the Toledo Free Press' Bill Stewart.

In his Friday "Media Watch" column, Stewart touches on our item about Toledo market AM outlet WDMN/1520, which has been adding various syndicated talk programs as of late.

Stewart noticed the talk programming, as well, and turned to us to find out more.

Well, here's some more. Listeners have spotted two other syndicated talk programs airing on the former religious/gospel outlet known as "Dominion 1520"...and we frankly didn't expect them to air on a station owned by the Cornerstone Church.

We don't know how regular they are, but we hear Jones Radio syndicated liberal talkers Bill Press and Stephanie Miller are rounding out the morning talk lineup on WDMN, at least as of late last week.

We've heard, but have not confirmed, that music may be heard in off-hours or weekends, similar to what happens at Bernard Radio Youngstown market talk WGFT/1330 Campbell.

We've heard that latter outlet, known as "1330 Talk", playing classic rock and oldies music on Sundays....even though the Youngstown market's home of Citadel syndicated morning drive talker Don Imus does run WOR Radio Network talk programming on Saturdays...


Brian Graf said...

the conversion has most definitely NOT happened in the Macedonia area.

MusicsOnUs44 said...

Speaking of conversions.... With most of the Cleveland TV stations migrating to other channels I'm wondering when the stations will start talking about their new channel numbers? I'm guessing that they will also have to refer to their old channel numbers for a while, as most viewers will still be picking up the analog feed off cable on their "traditional" channels. Will we be soon hearing about "NewsChannel 35"... or "35 and 5". Or.... will they start positioning as "News Channel WEWS"? Likewise with the other stations.

For years KNSD, channel 34 in San Diego has been positioning themselves as "7/34". They're on-air channel is 34 but they're apparently on channel 7 on all the cable systems in the DMA.

This will be interesting to watch. My guess is you'll see it rolled out in advance of the big analog blackout.... maybe with the fall premieres?

Ohio Media Watch said...

Good question.

One answer: the digital TV standard includes the "PSIP" information that for most stations, displays the digital signals with the current analog channel numbers.

So for a digital OTA viewer, WKYC is still "3" (and "WeatherPlus" is 3.2), WEWS is still "5", etc, even if the underlying RF channel is different.

Would WOIO/19, we wonder, be able to identify by RF 10? "Cleveland's CBS 10"? I don't know the rules.


Bill said...

KNSD's on-air channel is 39, not 34

MusicsOnUs44 said...

Whatever they eventually call the station, the viewer is going to have to get an address. In the old days, it was easy.... channel 3 was on channel 3. Cable complicated this a bit with, say channel 19 being on channel 4. But, eventually, what we now know as channel 3 will be 17, 5 will be 15 (sorry I said 35 without checking the list), 19 will be 10, only 8 will still be 8. So.... the question I posed was how will the stations position themselves so they can be found on the TV dial.

Channel 19 could call themselves CBS 10 if they wanted since they will be CBS and on channel 10. Why not? Right now they MIGHT have a trademark issue with WBNS in Columbus, but soon they will be moving as well (to ch. 21).

And yes, I stand corrected KNSD is indeed on channel 39.... but will migrate to ch. 40 during the "big switch."

I'm speculatingg that call letters will be more important in positioning statements in the coming months, although most Cleveland stations already use them prominently. (Unlike some markets where the call letters appear once per hour in tiny type for the legal ID. Tampa comes to mind since I recently traveled there.) I am also speculating that you will start to see the "Permanent digital" channel numbers creep into the promotional mix during the next 3-4 months.

Ohio Media Watch said...

One thing you're missing here: the true, RF channel numbers are hidden from the digital OTA viewer.

PSIP information populates the guide with the station's analog channel number.

WOIO-DT is on RF 10, but a digital OTA viewer would never know that unless he or she looked it up. The scanning process converts WOIO-DT on the receiver to 19.

WKYC-DT will be on RF 17 next year, but it'll still show up as 3 on the digital OTA TVs, receivers and boxes. To the viewer, they'll still be "Channel 3".

There will still be some imaging changes. I've heard that "FOX 17/62" in Youngstown is calling itself "FOX Youngstown" in the audio for station promos. But in that case, 17 and 62 are analog LPTV channels that may or may not exist down the road, or may be elsewhere on another channel in LD form.

And with the simulcast of WYFX on WKBN-DT 27.2, there are no "17"s or "62"s involved at all. At the transition, when OTA viewers will have digital tuners and converter boxes, that puts WYFX up there on channel shelf space right next to WKBN...


MusicsOnUs44 said...

Pardon my ignorance about the new equipment, but am I to understand that if I buy an HGTV receiver, rig it for off-the-air reception, and punch up channel 3 on the tuner, it will know to go to channel 2 right now.... and later channel 17? Pretty cool if that's the case. Even so... at some point will we still be calling WKYC "Channel 3" if it has been solely residing at 17?

Ohio Media Watch said...

Musicsonus - that's basically it, though you'll likely have to rescan after Feb. 17th to catch the RF channel changes (WKYC - 2 to 17, WJW - 31 to 8, etc.).