A Three Tier HDTV Update

Our apologies for being gone for a day or two here at OMW. Not only are we busy enjoying weekend activities with some out-of-town friends who are in Northeast Ohio through tomorrow, but the palatial OMW World Headquarters was without power for the better part of Friday night into Saturday morning! And only the OMW World Headquarters, and about 34 other unlucky neighboring souls. All’s back to normal, now.

UPDATE LEVEL 1: A clarification to our earlier item, suggesting that Cleveland market WB-to-become-CW affiliate WBNX/55 may not have its digital signal over the air until Spring 2007. Don’t blame us…blame whoever answers the WBNX feedback E-Mail for this directly quoted answer, received by our OMW tipster as a reply to a message asking them about their digital situation in the wake of the approval of the WBNX-DT construction permit:

Thank you for your feedback. An antenna has to still be designed and built at our transmitter site. Spring of 2007 is a likely date. Thank you for watching wbnx-tv!

The information did NOT come from WUAB/43 or another competitor, and we thought we made that clear in the initial item. It came directly from the keyboard of whoever answers the “vwrfdbk” E-Mail address at “”…it’s the link you see on their web page under “Viewer Feedback”. We did not pull this out of the air, folks. We did not make this up. It was not planted by a competing station.

If indeed WBNX is actively constructing its over-air digital facility and aiming to get The CW on the air in HDTV by this fall (or for that matter, whatever The WB runs in the summer in HDTV), someone better tell whoever answers their E-Mail to provide the correct answers to viewers. We understand WBNX is advertising their upcoming digital capability on air, but we have yet to see that in occasional watching of the station the past few days…and their “trends” web page has yet to be updated.

Quite frankly, the E-Mail we’ve been forwarded above didn’t make a lot of sense to us, but it was (presumably) from a station employee charged with answering viewer E-Mail. (It would not be the first time that such an event has occurred, depending on what kind of attention a station pays to its incoming viewer E-Mail.)

We will attempt to get a straight answer from WBNX, and will post it here when we do receive that answer.

UPDATE LEVEL 2: WNEO/WEAO “PBS 45 & 49” programming and operations director Don Freeman weighs in on the digital TV situation at the Kent-based PBS affiliate. Freeman tells a home theater/HDTV hobbyist website about the station’s travails with aging digital encoding equipment and automation interfacing, which have prompted some unwanted changes on the WNEO-DT/WEAO-DT signals:

Our first generation digital encoding equipment is showing its age. The unit has limitations and those, combined with our incompatible automation system interface, limit what the station can deliver. That’s why the Information & Education Channel (CPB/Annenberg) has temporarily been discontinued. That is also why, after 6 months of effort, we are TEMPORARILY de-listing our HD service. That is also why we’ve made considerable changes to our 2am-5 am primary channel service.

We have been expecting funds from a federal grant to upgrade our automation system since September. We are now spending considerable time reviewing replacement mux and encoding equipment. But we are not abandoning HD as one of the significant broadcast streams in our future.

When we get all the pieces-parts together HD will be on the air again. I, for one, can hardly wait.

Don Freeman
Director of Programming and Operations

UPDATE LEVEL 3: Over in the Youngstown market, CBS affiliate WKBN/27’s digital/HDTV signal is now available via Armstrong Cable channel 104. And sister WYFX-LP/62-WFXI-CA/17, better known as “FOX 17/62”, is also available in digital format AND with FOX HD programming on Armstrong Cable channel 105.

Since FOX 17/62 can’t literally do any better digitally over-the-air than an SD subchannel of WKBN-DT 41, the FOX HDTV feed is being sent via fiber optic from WKBN to Armstrong (as is the CBS HDTV feed).

There’s no word on if Time Warner Cable, the other major Youngstown/Warren market operator, will add these feeds…

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