Less Than Helpful Corporate Siblings

We’re just four days away from the debut of the second new TV network in the United States, and thousands of viewers in the Cincinnati market aren’t sure they’ll be able to see it.

After Sinclair WB affiliate WSTR/64 took an early ride on the MyNetworkTV Express (or maybe it’s a limited stop local), and the new CW network took a pass on small independent UPN outlet WBQC-CA “UPN 38”, CW landed on a new subchannel of Clear Channel CBS affiliate WKRC’s digital outlet…to be called “CinCW”.

After years and years of watching WBQC fighting for whatever scraps Time Warner gave them for carriage – which eventually landed the low-power station a five hour prime-time clearance on cable channel 20 – local media observers felt WKRC would have an easier time of it.

After all, the “W” in “The CW” stands for Warner Brothers, a sister company to the cable system’s parent, and co-owner of the network with CBS.

Think again.

While it still seems likely that SOME carriage of “CinCW” will happen on TWC’s dominant Cincinnati system by the Monday debut, the local cable operation is not making it easy for the affiliate of its corporate cousin. Both sides told Cincinnati Enquirer TV/radio writer John Kiesewetter this week that they’re “optimistic” that something will be worked out by the network’s first bow.

But the problem WKRC has in Cincinnati with “CinCW” is actually the same problem Youngstown ABC affiliate WYTV/33 is seeing with Time Warner Cable there, trying to get more prominent carriage of its new “My YTV” subchannel.

WYTV is pushing to get “My YTV” on an analog basic cable channel, where Time Warner has placed it on digital 534 – next to WYTV’s HDTV feed at 533. We reported earlier a campaign by WYTV, urging viewers to call TWC’s Youngstown and Warren offices to ask for an analog channel for their new sister station.

But in Cincinnati, there’s that Time Warner-Warner Brothers connection.

Though Clear Channel actually owns the affiliate, one would think there’d be corporate pressure to bear… since WKRC’s “CinCW” is one of very few large market digital CW outlets, and they certainly need viewers to be able to find it easily. And the station has lost valuable promotional time in the buildup to the CW launch next week.

Up I-71 and I-90 from Ohio’s Queen City, Time Warner actually owns the cable-only WB-to-CW outlet in Rochester NY, “WRWB”.

Tie that in with the likelihood that TWC will hand off the former “WB 16” to Clear Channel to run as a sister station to Rochester ABC affiliate WHAM-TV/13 – as reported by our friend and colleague Scott Fybush’s NorthEast Radio Watch – and you have to wonder why the two companies can’t figure something out in Cincinnati.

We know from experience that national corporate mandates in broadcasting often get slowed down by strong local management. But in this case, it would appear to be a key piece of the puzzle that the “W” in CW needs to solve…and Kiesewetter’s item seems to indicate that the final call will be made by the TWC national corporate office.

Oh, and poor Elliott Block.

The WBQC owner will get his low-power outlet thrown up into high digital cable channel territory on the Cincinnati area Insight systems when “CinCW” takes over channel 25. And he’s likely to lose his part-time slot on Time Warner cable channel 20 as well, no matter what happens to the new CW outlet.

Meanwhile, CW viewers in the northern end of the Cincinnati market may turn to Dayton’s WBDT/26 instead…and they’ll have to do so if they have no cable, satellite or digital TV tuner…

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