Tuesday, September 09, 2008

And Some More For Tuesday

We're trying to break out of the sports-related items, honest...

MOVING TO THE DT: This isn't actually a sports item, though it involved a sporting event.

Raycom Media CBS affiliate WOIO/19 Shaker Heights/Reserve Square Basement/Cleveland moved CBS' coverage of the men's U.S. Open tennis final off of its main channel Monday, and aired it on its digital subchannel (WOIO-DT 19.2 "WeatherNow").

As far as we know, it's the first time WOIO has bounced regularly scheduled CBS programming off the main channel in favor of a subchannel that normally carries 24/7 weather information. We're told that "Cleveland's CBS 19" kept to its regular schedule, with "19 Action News" and the syndicated game show "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" on analog 19/WOIO-DT 19.1.

Presumably, WOIO thought so little of the coverage that it didn't pre-empt the syndicated reruns airing on its own sister station, MyNetwork TV affiliate WUAB/43 "My 43".

And that has tennis fans upset, and hitting our E-Mail box, and "19 Action News"' own website comments, in numbers. We don't follow tennis very closely, but the men's final was apparently of historic significance for one Roger Federer.

And Federer and his exploits were harder to follow. Though "WeatherNow" does air on Time Warner Cable, it's up there on digital cable channel 371...not exactly intuitive for viewers.

And WOIO's digital over-air channel isn't the best, as it's a lower-power station that gets clobbered from across Lake Erie, in lakeshore communities, by the strong analog signal of CFPL-TV 10 in London, Ontario, Canada...

SPEAKING OF DIGITAL TV: OK, maybe we have a theme.

This sub-item really isn't a newsy one about Northeast Ohio television, but it needs noting here for future reference.

As expected, the four major commercial network affiliate TV stations in Wilmington, North Carolina successfully pulled programming from their full-power analog stations at 12 noon Monday, and are now only sending programming to their digital over-air outlets (and of course, cable and satellite).

We are very specific about this, unlike virtually every other report on this - especially before Monday's event.

There really was no "big switch" involved, unless you count the nine-foot high prop switch that local officials moved to "digital" at a local government building in Wilmington on Monday.

The analog signals of the five stations - the local ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX affiliates, plus a Trinity Broadcasting translator - are still up and running, even now. The transmitters weren't shut off.

But instead of regular programming, all five analog signals carry some sort of computer-generated screen or message informing viewers of the switch, and what they need to do - including providing a toll-free number and website address.

A regular local digital TV observer tells us that the Wilmington stations will shut off the analog transmitters entirely, later this month or early next.

We're also told that there are early complaints from outlying viewers of one station, which is apparently operating at lower digital power, temporarily, from a new digital tower site shared with another station. That should be cleared up shortly.

Which brings us to Northeast Ohio.

One reason this area wasn't chosen for an "early digital switch", aside from the fact that Cleveland/Akron (Canton) is a top 20 market, is that all of our facilities aren't yet in or near post-transition state.

The biggest problem is between Cleveland's NBC and PBS affiliates.

Their post transition facilities aren't built yet, and for the moment, it's almost literally impossible to receive WKYC-DT and WVIZ-DT from their temporary homes in a large chunk of the expansive local TV market. Most over-air viewers can't get the stations in Barberton, let alone Mansfield or Ashtabula, without large antennas and a few crossed fingers.

That'll be fixed for WKYC and WVIZ - when their new shared tower goes up next to the current WKYC analog tower in the local "antenna farm".

Elsewhere in this part of the state, Youngstown has one minor problem....the puny pre-transition facility (50KW) of Parkin-really-run-by-New Vision ABC affiliate WYTV/33. WYTV has a 1000KW maximization application in, but it will not likely be in place until after February, if that early.

With all those outstanding issues, Northeast Ohio is not the place to consider early digital transition, even if more of these events were in the plans before the national transition next February...


Anonymous said...

There were many other national affiliates that bounced the tennis coverage to a subchannel, so WOIO wasn't alone. I Apologize for the usage of "bounced."

yekimi said...

Glad you had the "balls" to apologize. I wonder how many people ade a "racket" over it being switched to a sub channel......

74WIXYgrad said...

Didn't they realize that they would "net" quite a few complaints from those who "love" tennis?

Anonymous said...

I don't know what others are finding in 'real world' testing but I am finding WOIO's digital signal is weaker than WKYC's in Akron, Hartville, and West Salem.