Another Digital TV Station Fires Up

It’s not a big deal unless you want to see every cut in a cubic zirconium ring, but it looks like Shop at Home O&O WOAC/67 Canton has brought its full power digital TV outlet online.

Here at the OMW World Headquarters in northwest Akron, WOAC-DT 47 is putting about an 80% signal into our digital receiver…with only an indoor antenna pointed at a wall (with no windows!) in the general direction of Brimfield. That’s where both the WOAC analog and digital towers are located, at the I-76/Rt. 43 interchange – across the road from the tower carrying Media-Com’s WNIR/100.1 Kent and WAOH-LP/29 Akron.

WOAC-DT has actually been on the air for a while, but it put out an anemic 17KW of power. That’s barely enough to push it past the Portage County line without an outdoor antenna to receive the station. The recent power increase had to have happened within the past day or two, as we’ve never been able to receive the station this easily. WOAC still has some problems on its digital signal, as the “PSIP” (digital program information) scanned in for us as “47-3” a couple of days ago, and we can’t get it to rescan – even with the much stronger signal.

WOAC’s power increase means that WBNX/55 Akron (DT 30) and WVPX/23 (DT 59) Akron are the sole local full-power stations not operating a full-power signal. Neither station is even running a lower-powered temporary digital assignment at this point. Both have run into problems with their applications to the FCC, as they’re having difficulty coordinating with Canadian stations on the same channel.

For its part, WBNX notes that it hopes to get on the air digitally by July 2006. They didn’t just pull this date out of a hat, as it’s the deadline for all large market full-power stations to go to full-power on their digital signals. The deadline for large market affiliates of the “Big Four” networks passed last year, but WB, UPN, PBS and independent stations have until this summer.

What happens if they don’t get on by July? The penalty is loss of protection for their digital signal…and with a mandated conversion to digital TV now set in law in February 2009, that’ll become very important. We’ll assume WBNX lists that date because they believe the FCC will get off its duff and approve their application due to the upcoming deadline. Or something.

Of the above stations listed, only WBNX will broadcast high-definition programming as a WB affiliate. Of course, that could change by September…with the UPN/WB folding into “The CW”. WVPX’s “i” Network programming is in standard 480i definition, and it’ll probably have other PAX-related subchannels. WOAC’s Shop at Home programming is also 480i only…no, no one’s doing high-definition home shopping as of yet…

UPDATE: 2/22/06 12:39 PM – WOAC’s signal has started moderating again, and it’s not as strong as it was. We figure they’re still testing the 1000KW signal.

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