Monday, June 30, 2008

Columbus TV Outlet Sold

Guardian Television independent/religious/former ION affiliate WSFJ/51 Newark/Columbus is being sold.

The trade site TV Newsday (or is it tvnewsday, or TVNEWSDAY?) reported last week that Guardian is flipping WSFJ to Trinity Broadcasting, giving the Santa Ana CA-based religious TV giant its third full-power O&O station serving a major Ohio market.

(The others are WDLI/17 Canton in the Cleveland market, and WKOI/43 Richmond IN, a rimshot into the Cincinnati and Dayton markets.)

The move beans the end of the mostly secular "family friendly" format at what's been known as "GTN51", as TBN will presumably install its own 24/7 satellite-fed religious format.

But the spirit of "GTN51" lives on, in Guardian's soon-to-be-launched ".2 Network", a family-friendly entertainment satellite feed being offered nationwide to stations looking to add value to their digital subchannels.

In the TV Newsday article, Harry A. Jessell writes:

Reached by phone, Guardian CEO Richard Schilg declined to comment on the price tag, but said the proceeds will capitalize the .2 Network.

"It allows us to be debt free at the launch and gives us a war chest for future needs," he said. "It is positive all the way around. The fact that the buyer is TBN preserves the religious legacy of the station for the Columbus community."

And as such, we assume that explains an earlier comment by Guardian at ".2"'s launch...that the digi-network wouldn't necessarily land on WSFJ-DT 51.2.

At the time, station/network officials hinted at the prospect of a future group deal putting ".2" on another group's Columbus outlet.

But TBN already feeds four of its own religious 480i subchannels on its DT stations - including WDLI-DT here - in addition to the 480i simulcast/main signal...and we'll assume they won't change that MO in Columbus.

The Newark-licensed station already has something in common with its soon-to-be sister full-power stations serving Ohio. (TBN, of course, has low-power translators basically at every wide spot on the road in Ohio and beyond.)

The station nudged itself closer to Columbus a couple of years back, and improved its coverage. Though the linked article refers to a new analog antenna installed in 2006, the new site between Newark and Columbus also carries WSFJ-DT.

Up here in Northeast Ohio, WDLI-DT did much the same, putting its full-power DT facility in Akron, where it sits just up the road from whatever remains of Rolling Acres Mall - basically across the street from facilities for WVPX/23 and WONE/97.5. Channel 17 analog has long-been based off Route 62 in Stark County's Louisville, east of Canton.

And though Richmond IN-licensed WKOI hasn't actually moved its transmitter recently - at least that we can see - its maximized DT facility will apparently give it much wider coverage of both Cincinnati and Dayton from its perch just east of Oxford...


djl said...

Terrific. Can't wait for another channel on my cable system that I never watch.

Not that I watched WSFJ with any kind of regularity, but every once in a while they'd have something worth watching.

Between the demise of the Columbus Sports Network and GTN51, it's been a rough month to be a small-time television broadcaster in Central Ohio.

Scott said...

Columbus Sports went under? Darn - that looked like quite the ambitious operation when I saw it a year or so ago...