High Definition TV Update

Watching the Browns get beat by the Lions on FOX’s high-definition feed (WJW-DT) yesterday reminded us…it’s time for a local HDTV update.

The biggest news so far is a change at the Akron area’s PBS affiliate, “PBS 45 & 49” – digitally, in this area, WEAO-DT 50. Since the station put WNEO-DT 46 up out of the Salem transmitter site, and later added Akron’s WEAO-DT, they’ve been running the 24/7 PBS HD feed on the digital signal, with a SD simulcast of the over-air PBS 45 & 49 feed. The PBS HD feed simulcasts any HD shows that are on the regular network, and fills the rest of the time with other HD and SD digital widescreen shows.

Some time in the past couple of weeks, WNEO/WEAO discontinued the full-time PBS HD feed, though we believe they’ll still simulcast HD versions of the prime time shows on 50.1 (and 46.1). Right now, there are two simulcasts of the over-air signal on each subchannel.

It’s our understanding that they will use the digital signal to air a new children’s network, which we presume will be something different from the “PBS Kids” feed offered by many pubcasters in the past. That feed migrated off of the PBS affiliates’ digital signal and is now the cable/satellite network “Sprout”. We saw a promo for the new 45/49 “kids” feed, which gave an October 31 start date.

It’s not unprecedented…many PBS stations program a menu of specialized/educational/childrens feeds on their DT signals during the day, and shut them down at night to make room for the HD feeds.

Meanwhile, Cleveland’s WVIZ-DT 26 still carries the 24/7 PBS HD feed. But though they were expected to raise power by now, there are apparently more technical and/or legal issues preventing them from putting up the full-power DT antenna at their analog site in North Royalton. There was a legal dispute with the tower site’s owner, the Cleveland cluster of Infinity Radio (WNCX, in particular), but we’re not sure if that’s the same problem preventing the new WVIZ antenna from going up. We were told, months ago, that the IdeaStream-Infinity dispute was settled.

Until this all gets worked out, WVIZ-DT 26 is sending out a weak signal from a small antenna on top of their Brookpark Road studio location. The signal can’t be picked up by us here at OMW World Headquarters in suburban northwest Akron, but Adelphia cable does carry the PBS HD feed off of WVIZ-DT.

The other digital stragglers in the market are Pax/i’s WVPX/23 Akron, and the local WB Network affiliate, WBNX/55 Akron. Both are apparently still working out Canadian interference issues, and are not yet on the air digitally.

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