OK, so we'll squeeze out one more update of odd stuff this Friday after the Thanksgiving Day holiday.
There is some more economic bad news for those in local media, but we'll put that on the back burner until our Monday morning update...keeping the meaning of "Black Friday" for holiday shopping crowds for now...
ION OF CHANGE: A little change could be coming to the digital signals of the ION Network's owned and operated TV stations, and the ION folks are going about proposing the changes in an unusual way.
We first got word of this from Jon Ellis' excellent Upper Midwest Broadcasting site, which reports that 42 ION-owned stations have filed an FCC form 314 to assign their licenses to Urban Television, LLC. Well, assign part of their licenses, at any rate. (Here's the application for Northeast Ohio's own ION outlet, WVPX/23 Akron.)
No, ION isn't selling its stations to the Urban Television folks.
Rather, they're proposing a shared time agreement, that essentially will split off a digital subchannel for each station, that would actually be owned by the Urban Television operation.
Why doesn't ION just sell time on their digital subchannels?
Well, the reason behind the FCC application is to try to invoke must carry rules for the Urban Television subchannel on cable and satellite...the theory being that if Urban Television actually has a separate FCC license for the subchannel, it'd fall under the same rules as other FCC (full-power) TV licenses.
ION - which owns 49% of the Urban Television operation - explains their rationale in this FCC filing (PDF file).
Of course, in Northeast Ohio, this is all academic for now. WVPX/23 has never lit up its digital TV allocation due to a host of Canadian-related issues on its original allocation, RF channel 59.
Due to that, and the fact that all broadcast stations will have to abandon channels above 51 after the February 17th digital transition, WVPX's very first digital broadcast will be after it "flash cuts" to channel 23, digitally, at the transition.
But it's probably a very, very safe bet that this new request for "owned shared time" subchannels won't be approved by the FCC before mid-February...
WHILE WE'RE TALKING DIGITAL FLASH CUTS: A reminder from our friends at Western Reserve Public Media in Kent, which operates local PBS affiliates WNEO/45-WEAO/49 under the "Western Reserve PBS" banner.
We've had a couple of OMW readers tell us that they're not currently able to get the new digital signal of WNEO/Alliance, the Youngstown market side of the station which sent its analog channel 45 packing recently to recamp on digital channel 45.
"Rescan is the mantra," we hear from the Western Reserve PBS folks.
In other words, if you're easily within the expected signal range of WNEO-DT, and haven't gotten it over-air since the analog went off over a week ago, you need to rescan your digital tuner or box.
The reason? WNEO-DT's "home address" on the TV band moved from RF channel 46, to the former analog home of RF channel 45, a week ago.
If you'd scanned in WNEO DT before last Friday, that information is no good due to the move.
The solution is easy...you can rescan your digital channels from your tuner or converter box menu, more than likely under the "Setup" menu option. If you're in the Youngstown market, that should bring back WNEO's new digital 45 signal as soon as the scan is done. (If you're still confused, contact the station's DTV Help Desk, where someone will walk you through it.)
As we've said frequently, but repeat here again, the Western Reserve PBS changes this month do not affect the group's Akron operation, WEAO/49, in either analog or digital format.
WEAO's analog 49 will sign off on the night of February 17, 2009, like all the other full-power analog stations in America, and the digital side of WEAO will continue at its present location.
And of course, cable and satellite viewers of both stations won't be affected.
But the "rescan mantra" will be necessary for TV viewers in many markets - including Cleveland - on the morning of February 18th.
A number of stations will make frequency changes on the digital side at the transition, including NBC affiliate WKYC and FOX affiliate WJW...which will still appear as "3" and "8" on digital tuner boxes...though WJW's digital signal will actually replace its analog signal on channel 8...
HAPPY HOLIDAYS: OMW readers in the Youngstown market tipped us today, and we confirmed, that Clear Channel hot AC WMXY/98.9 "Mix 98.9" has indeed flipped to Christmas music as of today.
It's the second such flip within the Clear Channel Youngstown cluster on South Avenue, as sister classic hits WBBG/106.1 "Big 106.1" made the Ho-Ho-Switch earlier.
It also sounds like Rubber City oldies WAKR/1590 Akron has started sprinkling in some holiday music, with WAKR program director Chuck Collins playing that a Christmas tune or three during his air shift this midday Friday. (We have heard at least two non-holiday tunes on WAKR in the past hour or so.)
Other than that, we're not going to keep obsessive track of the Christmas Music flips from now on, since just about any station with compatible music could still make the change as the holiday season wears on...
A TIE REPORT: Do you like to keep tabs on neckwear worn by a television network news anchor? A Northeast Ohio woman has just the ticket.
Associated Press TV writer David Bauder has the story of The Brian Williams Tie Report Archives, a blog by local teacher Nance Donnelly solely devoted to tracking what's hanging from the neck of "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams during his news broadcasts.
She describes herself in the Blogger "About me" section:
I'm a high school English teacher in a public school defined as an "urban school with a significant minority population" in NE Ohio.
Nance gives thumbs up or thumbs down to ties worn on the air by the NBC anchor, even assigning some of the worst ties to a special status:
What does "TWSNLBRAINDTM" Mean?
This strange acronym stands for Tie Which Shall No Longer Be Reviewed And Is Now Dead To Me. Brian wore it with such shameless frequency and it is such a boring, pedestrian tie (which spawned a series of ties with the similar color combination and stripes--always stripes!) that I have forever refused to describe it ever again. If you wish to read a description of this awful tie, you may refer to the 2/19, 4/18, 5/3, 5/10, and 5/15 Tie Reports. After that, I went completely over the edge and conferred TWSNLBRAINDTM status.
Seriously, Donnelly explains herself to the AP's Bauder:
"People must think, 'This poor woman must be one of those stalker freaks,' but it can't be any further from the truth," said its author, Nance Donnelly, who is teaching her students by example that if you want to be a writer, write every day.
OK, so she sounds normal.
We applaud and salute Ms. Donnelly, and encourage her to branch off to watch the ties worn by Northeast Ohio's own TV news anchors.
Heck, we do THIS blog, who are WE to snicker at a blog about a network news anchor's ties? And anything that gets high school students writing regularly is a good thing...