Wednesday, February 04, 2009

THIS JUST IN: WJW Files For Early Analog Shutoff

One Cleveland market TV station has now filed with the FCC to shut off its analog transmitter, and move to its post-transition digital operation, on the original digital transition date of February 17th.

Local TV-owned Fox affiliate WJW/8 "FOX 8"'s filing with the FCC hit the agency's online database early this morning. (Thanks to RabbitEars.info's Trip Ericson for first word, and for keeping track of all the applications!)

The filing references the current uncertainty over the digital transition date, with a vote on moving it to June 12th set for sometime today in the U.S. House. From the filing itself:

This instant notice is submitted because of the current existence of pending legislation that might postpone the analog termination deadline.

And in the request, Local TV cites the cost of keeping two transmitters going past the previously arranged February deadline:

For almost 3 years – since Congress in the Digital Television and Public Safety Act of 2005 established February 17, 2009, as the deadline for all television stations to terminate analog broadcast service – the Station has planned to transition as of February 17, 2009.

Continued analog operation of the Station beyond the existing DTV transition deadline would result in a significant financial hardship, including unbudgeted costs for maintenance of the analog facility and electrical power consumption. The Station thus believes that this instant analog termination is necessary for purposes of the transition.


WJW's filing also requests authorization to shut off current pre-transition digital channel 31 at the original DTV deadline, and to start digital operations on channel 8 after the analog transmitter is shut off.

By the way, we're reminded surfing through the WJW applications that for the moment, digital channel 8 has a construction permit for an 11KW operation - the station's maximization application would improve that to 30KW.

We have no idea if it's possible that the maximization construction permit would be granted by February 17th. (For that matter, we have no idea how the FCC is going to handle this whole thing in the first place, with hundreds of filings by stations looking to go all-digital on that original date...with currently working analog transmitters.)

We also note that WJW's currently authorized post-transition digital channel 8 power level is about three times higher than WOIO-DT's pre-transition 3.5KW operation.

So, it would appear from here that the local competitive considerations are moot, and that the rush to ensure an "on-time" digital transition on the original date is being driven nationwide by station ownership groups like Local TV. The WJW application was one of a number of such applications filed by some of Local TV's operations, and by some closely associated Tribune Broadcasting stations.

We don't see the other out-of-town group owners in Cleveland listed in the update to Trip Ericson's early termination list (Gannett, Raycom), and there's no filing at least yet from Winston Broadcasting CW affiliate WBNX/55 Akron.

Gannett's WKYC/3 and ideastream PBS affiliate WVIZ/25 are somewhat unlikely to file for February 17th termination, given the not-yet-under-construction status of the new WKYC tower in Parma - and the nature of the stations' current pre-transition facilities, with WKYC on interference-plagued digital channel 2, and WVIZ with a low-power 10KW STA on the side of an existing WKYC tower.

Western Reserve PBS' WEAO/49 Akron has already informed OMW that it will continue to operate in analog if the digital transition date moves to June 12th...though like every other operator we've heard from, they're not happy about the continued expense of operating the analog transmitter four months past the original February 17th deadline...

8 comments:

andrew727 said...

I applaud WJW TV 8 for being the first one to pull the plug on their analog signal on February 17th. And I think they bring up a good point about the expense of running two transmitters. Other stations should stick to the aforementioned date. I can feel for WKYC TV 3 and WVIZ TV 25 not having their new tower up, that's got to be a real pain in the butt. Right now, WKYC TV 3's signal in digital or analog form sucks. And Western Reserve is beating the pants off WVIZ TV 25's digital coverage. Looks like WVIZ and WKYC will be the last one's out the analog door, leaving them to turn out the light in June - if it comes to that.
-Andrew, MALL727.net-

king-of-kings said...

Well the House is currently debating an amendment to the bill that says that those channels that are in that public safety spectrum have to go digital. This of course means WBNX, since they are indeed within the spectrum.

Stay tuned.

emery_r said...

The dominant station in Dayton, WHIO, said today they will proceed with the transition to digital as scheduled on Feb. 17. This was announced during their 6 PM newscast tonight, and I found this on their website:
http://www.whiotv.com/news/18633019/detail.html

The main justification for sticking to Feb. 17 was given as the likely delay in rescheduling the specialized work crews necessary to install their permanent digital transmitter.

This brings a question to mind -- if they've been operating with a temporary digital transmitter until now, will their signal or coverage area change significantly after installation of the permanent transmitter in two weeks? It's all the unknowns like this that are SO confusing to everyone, including those of us who want DTV to succeed. I resent the loss of stations currently available analog but are (so far) lost with digital. WHIO is one of those losses for me, near Cincinnati.

Tri-State Media Watch said...

The House passed the bill today, 264-158. That in from MSNBC within the last couple hours.

emery_r said...

This Dayton Daily News article discusses WHIO-7's intention to proceed with the Feb. 17 digital transition, and adds new info that WKEF-22 and WRGT-45 will also go digital then, even with Congressional action allowing a later date:

www.daytondailynews.com/n/content/oh/story/news/local/2009/02/04/ddn020409digitalweb.html

emery_r said...

Also note, WHIO will be part of the Nightlight Program, continuing with an analog signal until Feb. 28. Until now, I haven't seen notice of Nightlight participation by any Dayton or Cincinnati stations.

Tri-State Media Watch said...

Emery:

I actually covered the Dayton issue on TSMW on my post about the switch being bumped back to June. And you're correct, WHIO is going to shut off in February. But our understanding from the list linked above is, they actually now look to shut off on Feb. 17.

Tri-State Media Watch said...

Ah okay different story there. Didn't see that anywhere...this is the first we're hearing about any station doing the Nightlight thing also. But, yes, all the Dayton stations will indeed switch to DTV on the original 2/17 date...