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Re: WNHT's fatal error

Kevin's explanation of Channel 21's demise is overly simple.

WNHT signed on April 16, 1984, just seven months after WNDS TV-50. 
Channel 21 should certainly have been able to win the war against WGOT
TV-60; it didn't come on the air until August 17, 1987.  Based on
comparative power output, 21 certainly looked like it had shot:
WNHT  1845kw
WMUR  282kw
WGOT   141kw
WNDS   47.9kw
NHPTV  31.6kw

The problem was Channel 21 was in the UHF spectrum, while Channel 9 was
VHF.  Few homes were equipped with antennas in cable-saturated NH.  And 
there was little an over the air broadcaster could do--then--to force a
cable company to pick up its signal.

WNHT had more "than the idea of becoming a CBS affiliate;" when the first
local newscast aired May 28, 1988, Channel 21 WAS a CBS affiliate.  In
spite of a big signal, they weren't getting cable pickup and the net
affiliation wasn't enough to make a difference.  When Thomas Flatley (the
3rd owner in five years) pulled the plug and shut the station off on
March 31, 1989 he was losing two million dollars a month.  He had a
talented, aggressive, professional news department which cost a fortune
and nobody was seeing.

The 1992 Cable Act required cable companies to carry local programming in
specific viewing areas.  "Must carry" insured stations like Ch. 21 would
be included on more systems.  When BU Communications president Robert
Gordon announced the purchase of Ch. 21 on November 30, 1993, he was
quoted in the press as saying:  "What's different about us is our plan to
begin a locally produced program, hopefully a number of them, taregeted
to our marketplace."
Well, that hasn't happened.  In fact it took BU almost two more years to
even return 21 to the air (9/1/95).  BU market research, and the "must
carry" rule, showed the acquisition of 21 could increase their reach by
another 260,000 homes.  Buying 21 was simply a way to make Ch. 68 more

WMUR's transition to a serious news power actually began in July 1981,
weeks after the Imes management took over.  Norman Fein, a former ABC/NBC
TV exec was brought in to make the news credible.  His tenure was short,
but the result has been longterm.

Ed (Brouder@Juno.com) or (Brouder@Grolen.com)
Man From Mars Productions

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