Monday, June 15, 2009

6/12 DTV Deadline Has Passed, Have We/You Survived?

Well the extended DTV deadline of 6/12/09 has come and gone. Now all full-powered TV stations are broadcasting digitally. I note "full-powered" because LPTV stations, like WNYF-CA/WNYF-LP, or translators have no Federal mandate to convert...yet. WNYF-CA does have plans to digitize and hopes to be broadcasting by summers end in HDTV. We are exploring sites/frequencies etc for a Massena conversion as well.

WWTI in Watertown was the last full-powered station to cease analog broadcasts and I suspect the transition to all DTV broadcasts went without a hitch....lucky guys. WWTI did not change frequencies or any technical parameters like WWNY did in February.

We still take occasional calls from folks wondering if we are experiencing problems or if we are running low-powered and have any plans to upgrade the signal. Fact is WWNY is and has been broadcasting a strong VHF channel 7 signal since 2/17/09...nothing has changed and there are no plans to change. WWNY already applied for, was granted, and operates with a power increase over our original assignment from the FCC. We have witnessed our signal throughout the area far as 100 miles from the transmitter. What we have learned is antennas are so so critical.

If you are still experiencing issues getting channel 7 please visit or for guidance on antennas and their orientation towards the station.

FYI, Echostar has expressed some interest recently about building a facility to uplink local stations to satellite. Local stations on satellite might offer another option to viewers experiencing problems. Stay tuned, we'll let you know how that progresses. The Federal Law that allows satellite to carry local stations expires at the end of the year, and there may be changes to the law that forces satellite into offering local stations in all markets. We'll keep you up-to-date on these developments as well.


CarlB said...

By "all full-powered TV stations" I presume you mean ones not licensed to third-world countries such as Canada and México? If some of your viewers are in range for Kingston (nothing digital) or Ottawa (small minority of channels simulcast digitally), they will continue to need analogue pass-through until 2011 as the time line of this long and ongoing conversion process looks like:

2003 - 2005 Initial digital simulcasts on most small city US stations and on CITY-TV Toronto.

2007 New TV's in Watertown all arrive with factory-installed digital tuners. Obsolete analogue receivers dumped in Canada.

Jan 2009 US federal converter coupon programme runs out of money.

Feb 17 2009 WWNY-DT 7 becomes our first digital-only local station.

April 2009 WPBS/WNPI-TV, already long digital-only during overnight daypart, completely ends its analogue simulcasts. National Grid's shareholders observe a moment of silence.

June 12 2009 WWTI ends FCC-mandated analogue simulcast after incurring $50k cost to leave an analogue megawatt ERP of UHF on-air for four extra months. Syracuse becomes a UHF island. A couple of Rochester locals return to VHF, still waiting on FCC for power increase to someday send big signals like WWNY.

August 31 2009 CJOH-TV-6 scheduled to go dark, along with 8 Cornwall. Transmitting just zeroes (instead of ones and zeroes) cleverly cuts cost of digital transition in half; no one notices as CTV's analogue programming already pointlessly duplicative of our existing Watertown digital signals. Canadian authorities nonetheless hold onto newly-vacant but valuable VHF 8 allocation to prevent Massenans from actually broadcasting pictures on it.

Summer 2009 WNYF-CD scheduled to go to digital HDTV in Watertown. (Massena TBD.)

August 31 2011 Remaining Kingston station(s) flash-cut to digital, with Red Green completing the CBC's transition using binder twine and a few rolls of duct tape.

The end of time: New TV's in Kingston unexpectedly arrive with factory-installed digital tuners after the last remaining analogue-only set finally offloaded to an unsuspecting viewer north of the border. Retail community somehow belatedly realises a UHF-only "new digital HDTV antenna" is actually not the absolute best choice to pick up WWNY 7 or CKWS 11 a few days after the last antenna user is switched to cable. Computerised spell checker inexplicably stops trying to substitute "Massenans" with "Masseuses". Glendive, Montana's locals go full-ConUS after KXGN-TV completes a leveraged hostile takeover of the national network. Universe implodes in massive shock wave.

Jim Corbin said...

Ladies & Gentlemen... Carl performing at Yuk Yuk's, Kingston Ontario.

Todd Lamothe said...

Jim, let us all know when WNYF goes digital. There are quite a few of us here north of the border waiting patiently.

As CarlB points out, it is too bad Industry Canada is hanging on to frequencies that will probably never be lit up.

Roger1818 said...

Carl B,

You forgot one important date:

February 2009 (I think) After years of complaints, Canadian retailers finally start selling DTV boxes even though none of them know what they are for so they hide them in the stock room. ;)

Anonymous said...

We have pretty good DTV reception in Lewis and Jefferson counties, but i hear St. Lawrence is having some issues in the northern part. Since you guys have to convert your two LP Fox 28 stations to digital someday, here is what I would do if I was in power at channel 7. I would shut down the LP WNYF in watertown, since they can get 7.2 easily and should get the new Fox-HD. I would convert WNYF in Massena to digital, boost its power some and make it a repeater of WWNY's Champion tower. So folks up Massena way could still receive WWNY along with WNYF and both would be in digital on one tower. That way between the tower in Champion which is super powerful and the LP one in Massena, the tri county are would be completely covered.

Jim Corbin said...

WWNY/WNYF's plans mirror your suggestions...but the economy and regulatory review may slow its adoption.

WNYF-CA, Watertown will broadcast WNYF programming in HD sometime later this summer. WWNY-TV's 7.2 will contimue to broadcast WNYF programming in standard definition digital for folks who live beyond the low-powered range of WNYF-CA.

Plans are for WNYF-LP to be converted to digital. Channel 28.1 would be the programming of WNYF in standard definition and channel 28.2 would be WWNY in in a sense would be a repeater/translator for WWNY. This will digitize FOX up north and act as a gap-filler for viewers who have lost WWNY's signal. The reason we would take this (FOX in SD and WWNY in HD)approach has to do with how we get the signal to the northern transmitter... How quickley this can be achieved and at what power level is subject to the economy & regulatory review.

Once the FOX transmitters are digital we will make a determiniation whether we suspend analog FOX broadcasts.

WWNY is also exploring a power boost on WWNY-TV. WWNY, like many VHF stations is appealing to the FCC for assistance, since VHF frequencies may have been assigned too low a powered level for DTV broadcasts.

Anonymous said...

I think you should just increase the power output on WWNY-DT 7 so that is can reach Massena. That way you can avoid installing a translator. Use the money to build another full power station in Massena affliated to another network with also a strong enough signal to reach Watertown. I believe that Channel 8 up in Cornwall, Ontario is suppose to shutdown at the end of August. That would free up another VHF channel that can be used.

Jim Corbin said...

The power boost we can seek on Channel 7 won't likely extend its range will help provide a more robust signal for folks within the coverage area. Power levels have to be coordinated with Canada and the level we are seeking is within the range already negotiated between the FCC & Canada. It also is within the range our transmitter can produce. As it stands WWNY will need other channel 7 stations within the State to sign off on what is considered minor interference. (FYI, we have received WWNY's current VHF channel 7 signal in Massena on a standard rooftop antenna.)

Digitizing WNYF-LP will provide a DTV signal of WNYF's FOX programming as well as gap-filling WWNY's programming thru multi-casting.

Finally it is unlikely the FCC would approve ownership of another full-powered station by a single owner within the market. With the current economy we'd have to realize an ROI that can pay for the infrastructure, programming, personnel etc of another station...and while Canadian 8 might be going dark, that doesn't guarentee a frequency or filing window to seek one.

Anonymous said...

I see there is now an application to the FCC to broadcast WNYF-LP Digital on digital channel 18 from the Norwood area with 4kw of power.

This is the same area and channel that WNPI used for analog. Are their plans to use WNPIs former analog facilities to broadcast WNYF in digital? Or what is the deal with this app to the FCC.

Jim Corbin said...

The application for channel 18 was made to digitize WNYF-LP, Massena. We are proposing a co-location at WNPI's facility, and yes it is their old frequency...that was available. Channel 28 was being displaced by a Canadian station. On-air it will continue to be labeled channel 28.

We plan to broadcast WNYF's FOX programming and multicast WWNY's CBS programming on a secondary channel.

The proposed facility is a low-powered operation but will have a coverage area much greater than WNYF-LP's cuurent analog service area, but smaller than WNPI's old analog facility.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jim
When WNYF-DT 35 starts broadcasting will 28-1 Fox only be SD and 28-2 be CBS HD or is Fox going to be HD and CBS SD or is that only for the Massena translator?
also will WWNY add Dolby 5.1 sound
in the future?
and is there any chance of a sub channel 7.3 in the future with
maybe NBC or Retro Television Network (RTN) or THIS!-TV ?

Jim Corbin said...

When WNYF-CD Watertown broadcasts it will only have 28.1 WNYF prgoramming in HDTV.

When WNYF-LD, Massena is launched it will have 28.1 WNYF in SD, and 28.2 WWNY in HDTV.

No plans to multicast any other services as we do not have the equipment (or contracts with any other services) to do this.

It is highly unlikely you'll ever see an NBC affiliate in the Watertown DMA as the Network is viewed from spill from WSTM & WPTZ.

CarlB said...

Actually, WSTM and WPTZ both show very significant losses of coverage into Jefferson & St. Lawrence (respectively) by the FCC's own admission. The maps were posted to several months ago, indicating where 'B'-grade coverage has become no coverage.

Part of the problem is that both were low-VHF analogue channels which are now UHF. Part of the problem is that WPTZ moved their transmitter out of state (to Mt. Mansfield, Vermont from the North Pole - Lake Placid area). Cogeco dropped all remaining Syracuse locals in Kingston on 2/17/2009 - using Buffalo stations for both NBC and (for reasons which make no sense to anyone but the CRTC) Fox.

A similar situation exists with CBS in Utica (WTVH moved from low-VHF 5 to UHF 47). Pity that WWNY and WKTV can't just carry a downconversion of each other's main channel on a -DT3 subchannel, but at that point network lawyers get involved. :(

Anonymous said...

How about WWNY 7.3 for NBC? You could cover Watertown-Kingston-Oberg-Massena-Brockville. Thats over 300,000 folks.

Jim Corbin said...

Launching a 3rd channel would be quite an undertaking with equipment and programming costs. Plus, WSTM & WPTZ are recognized by the FCC as being significantly viewed. That status would make Network clearence & cable coverage difficult. Even with statistical multiplexing, the best we could achieve would be a standard defintion feed, as both NBC & CBS use 1080i resolution making multiplexing the signals difficult.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered adding a weather subchannel on 7.3? It would really be a great public service to the community, especially considering WPTZ recently discontinued its WeatherPlus channel on 5.2 and replaced it with a bunch of second-rate, sub-tier programming. Now residents of eastern St. Lawrence County (where WSTM is not available) no longer have the ability to obtain access to 24/7, instant, up-to-date, localized weather forecasts.

Jim Corbin said...

No plans to multicast any other services as we do not have the equipment (or contracts with any other services) to do this.

Since this station doesn't use statistical multiplexing we'd prefer to dedicate as much bandwidth as we can to WWNY's HD signal and WNYF's SD one.