Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Some Hope For WJW Signal?

We're not sure we're releasing the balloons and celebrating just yet, but an OMW/ODTV reader is sharing what could be good news for those over-air digital viewers struggling to receive Local TV Fox affiliate WJW/8.

The reader dropped WJW a note via an online contact form, noting the station's VHF related troubles...and joining the rather large chorus hoping to get the station to move back to its pre-transition UHF digital assignment of RF channel 31.

A reply came back...our reader noting the name atop it, of WJW's Todd Meany. He's been the newsroom's "point man" on the digital TV transition, and is listed on the above linked contact form.

Assuming our reader isn't just making this up out of thin air, here's Meany's response:

"We would love to go back to channel 31, and in fact the FCC is talking about letting stations around the country, who are in the same situation as we are, go back to their former channels. We hope this happens sooner rather than later."

Assuming that is Todd, he's actually a bit behind the times in information.

Local TV Fox affiliate sister station WGHP/8 in the Greensboro/High Point NC market has already lit up, under FCC special temporary authority, its former digital signal on UHF 35.

A list by RabbitEars' Trip Ericson details moves by VHF stations across the country to fix or supplement their signal - somehow, either temporarily or permanently. It lists WGHP as currently operating both VHF 8 and UHF 35.

Another sister station of WJW in the Local TV group, KSTU/Salt Lake City, is listed as opting to hang onto pre-transition UHF 28 instead of staying on VHF 13.

And also significant to ODTV, it shows Sinclair ABC affiliate WSYX in Columbus petitioning to move its RF channel from VHF 13 to UHF 48. (It was, of course, on analog 6.) There are no listings (yet?) for ABC O&O WTVG/13 and Raycom CBS affiliate WTOL/11 in Toledo.

Is this brief note scribbled to a frustrated viewer by a Fox 8 staffer a sign that WJW could well land back on UHF RF channel 31 soon - a move that most local digital OTA viewers would likely welcome?

Well, the North Carolina and Utah moves may be an indication that Local TV does see this as a solution for the VHF DTV problem. We don't know if other moves are possible here.

We also don't know if there would be any technical problems if WJW wished to return to UHF 31.

It would seem to be a pretty uncrowded channel, judging from what we've been reading on Mr. Ericson's own site.

But we don't know if CityTV in Toronto would put up new objections to a permanent or even temporary WJW return to 31...CityTV operates analog channel 31 in southern Ontario, not terribly far from London, as a repeater for the Toronto signal.

Though the station can be seen in Erie PA, we're told, we don't believe analog 31 ever made it - even before WJW-DT lit up pre-transition 31 - into the Cleveland market. We don't think this is a similar situation to the CFPL/10 interference to WOIO's anemic VHF RF 10 digital signal...


  1. The channel 31 allotment exists, as it was licensed on June 11, in the table of allotments contained in the Letter of Understanding with the Canadians. I would sincerely hope the Canadians are not an issue with channel 31.

  2. Here in Canton I have received an identifiable signal from the CityTV station on Ch 31 a few times since WJW vacated that they do make it into northern OH occasionally.

  3. That's great news if it is true. WJW should return to channel 31 and stay there permanently. It's about impossible to get WJW along with WOIO.

    I do have some good news to share. Today I was able to pull in WOIO and WJW with a watchable picture down in Akron. By putting my rabbit ears in the window with a longer coax connected to the TV, I was able to get all the usual Cleveland stations along with WOIO and WJW. WOIO had a 25-30% signal strength and WJW was at 40.

    If WJW abandons their VHF channel maybe there will be hope that WOIO will follow. Even though I was able to watchi WOIO, it was not as stable as the new UHF 17 or UHF 15 which come in solid.

  4. I have to laugh right now -- there's a guy on WCPO in Cincinnati who's presented as their "consumer advocate", and always chants the tagline "Don't waste your money!" at the end of his segments on the evening news.

    Well, this fellow has posted numerous so-called FAQs about DTV on the WCPO website, including the howler that "VHF is the standard for DTV in this country, and Cincinnati is 'unusual' because most of its stations use UHF channels." So wrong on so many levels! And many people have posted caustic comments refuting his mis-statements, but he's never acknowledged them.

    Um, only about 25% of U.S. stations currently use VHF for their digital broadcasts. VHF hasn't been the "standard" for broadcasting since the early 1960's, after the FCC required manufacturers to include both VHF and UHF tuners in all TV sets.

    To be honest, I think he was simply trying to cover for the VHF reception problems WCPO has had on RF 10. Wasn't too effective! We're holding out down here for an improvement in WCPO's signal after their permanent digital antenna is moved atop their tower by mid-July. Interestingly, no one in Cincinnati has really floated the idea that either current VHF station (WCPO or WKRC) might prefer UHF.

  5. I'll believe it if and when it happens. How hard could it possibly be to file a STA to move back to UHF 31 instead of waiting on the FCC to do it for them? Maybe the filing fees are more than they want to pay;-)

  6. A couple of points to make, in no particular order.

    1. WSYX has a pretty good power allocation, at 59 kw, and is far more powerful than practically any other station in the region. WSYX is also short-spaced with WTVG-Toledo and WOWK-Huntington. I wonder how much interference these stations are causing each other.

    2. Sinclair's engineering department has a pretty good reputation so I would say if they want to dump UHF for VHF there must be an pretty solid technical reason for it.

    3. Sinclair has a reputation for being cheap. Obviously they determined that the power savings wasn't worth it.

    4. WTHR/Dispatch dumped Channel 46 for Channel 13 in Indianapolis. I wonder what their feelings about that are now.

  7. In a dyslexic moment, I mangled the previous post. I meant to say:

    2. Sinclair's engineering department has a pretty good reputation so I would say if they want to dump VHF for UHF there must be an pretty solid technical reason for it.


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