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Re: A Providence TV question

Garrett writes:

>And Scott can tell the story of a whole wave of channel reassignments
>across upstate New York which had an effect on almost every market,
>triggered in part by the move of WRGB in Schenectady to channel 6
>(from channel 5 IIRC).  I've heard this story but I don't think the
>list has.            

Oooh...a challenge!  OK.  Here goes:

As several list members have already documented, the FCC's original
VHF spacing plan greatly underestimated the co-channel separations
that would be needed in the real world of tropospheric ducting, 
E-skip, etc.

Channel 4, for instance, had operating stations by 1949 in Boston
(WBZ-TV), Schenectady (WRGB), Lancaster PA (WGAL-TV), and Washington

Reworking everything in the 1951 "Sixth Report and Order" required
many existing stations to move (although the problem was eased somewhat
by the TV-licensing freeze brought on by the Korean War).

New England, as has been noted, saw WJAR moved from 11 to 10 and 
WNHC-TV from 6 to 8.

In Upstate New York, WRGB went from 4 to 6.  To prevent co-channel
issues in the Mohawk Valley, Rochester's WHAM-TV went from 6 to 5.
(ISTR that the original allocation for Syracuse's WSYR-TV, which 
would have just recently signed on, was 5, which was then changed
to channel 3).

When Toronto's CBLT debuted in 1952, it did so on channel 9.

Additional stations then operating in the region were:

Buffalo - WBEN-TV 4
Binghamton - WNBF-TV 12
Watertown - WCNY-TV 7
Utica - WKTV 13
Syracuse - WHEN-TV 8

(Buffalo, at this point, had an unused channel 2 assignment, 
while Elmira had an unused channel 9).

The WRGB and WHAM-TV channel swap was just the first, though...because
there was also demand for additional VHF assignments.

Buffalo's channel 2 signed on in 1954 as WGR-TV.  Rochester's 
channel 10 took air in 1953 as a time-share between two rival
radio operators, operating part of the day as WHEC-TV and part
of the day as WVET-TV (a situation that would linger into 1961,
when WVET's owners bought WROC-TV and sold their half of channel 10).
Buffalo's channel 7 debuted in 1958 as WKBW-TV; I'm not sure when
7 was allocated to the Queen City.

In Toronto, CBLT had moved to channel 6 at some point in the mid-50s,
opening channel 9 for the new CFTO in 1960.

Syracuse and Rochester each had just two Vs, though, so under 
some pressure (including from ABC), the FCC in 1958 reshuffled
the deck.

By swapping WHEN-TV's channel 8 to Rochester and WROC-TV (the former
WHAM-TV)'s channel 5 to Syracuse, channel 9 was opened for use at
Syracuse.  (For this to happen, the vacant channel 9 allocation 
at Elmira had to be moved to UHF, which it was.  The construction
permit there as WTVE was never built, but continued to sit on the
books on channel 24 for years).

By moving Utica's WKTV from 2 to 13, channel 13 allocations were
opened up at Rochester and Albany (the latter filled by the move
of WTRI Channel 35 down to VHF).

Dan Strassberg has previously recounted the saga of Albany's early
UHF history (hey, Dan, that would make a great Archives article!),
but suffice it to say that the other new V there was WTEN, Channel 10,
originally allocated to Vails Mills near Amsterdam (and the
subject of FCC opposition from Rochester's WHEC-TV/WVET-TV, 
who argued that Vails Mills was too close to Rochester).  WTEN
absorbed the UHF network that had included WCDA 41 Albany, WCDB
29 Hagaman, and WCDC 19 Adams MA (the last still exists, of course,
as a WTEN satellite).

In both the 1951 Sixth R&O, and the late 50s moves, the actual
changes of channel would not take place for several years.  The
6-to-5 switch in Rochester took place sometime in 1952 (I have the
date somewhere), while the 8-5 swap didn't happen until 1962.

The final tweaks of the VHF dial:  In Toronto, CBLT moved from 6 to
5 at some point in the (late?) 60s, apparently to open channel 6
for assignments at Paris, near Kitchener, and at Deseronto, near
Belleville (channel 5 was unusable at either location due to
co-channel stations in Cleveland and Syracuse).

And at some point, Utica was given a channel 4 allocation.  Strangely,
this allocation has never been applied for or built, despite
the subsequent arrivals of two commercial UHF stations in the
market (WUTR 20 in 1969 and WTUV, now WFXV 33 in the eighties).

As for UHF:

Joseph Gallant correctly remembers one of the California stations
forced to move from V to U -- but there were two!  KERO Bakersfield
had been on channel 10, but was shifted to channel 23.  KFRE-TV
Fresno moved from 12 to 30.  The idea in both cases (as well as
in at least one Illinois city -- but without my reference material
in front of me, I can't be certain that it was Peoria) was something
called "de-intermixture," an FCC allocations theory that suggested
markets should be either all-VHF or all-UHF.  The concept was 
strongly supported by the Us trying to compete with the dominant
V in each market (like McClatchy Newspapers' KMJ-TV 24 in Fresno).
In some markets, like Madison WI and Hartford, the fight over
de-intermixture held up assignment of the lone V allocation (in
both of those markets, channel 3) for years.  One suggestion in
both markets, as reported in a 1955 issue of Broadcasting, was
to reserve the lone V for educational use (in which case it
appears Hartford would have taken New Haven's channel 59 allocation
for commercial use).

Albany was de-intermixed in the opposite direction by moving WTRI
to 13 (as WAST) and WCDA/WCDB to 10 as WTEN, but there had been
a proposal for a V-to-U deintermixture by instead moving WRGB to
channel 47.  I've never seen a similar proposal for Binghamton,
oddly enough.

Elmira was easy, since WTVE on channel 9 had never been built.
The city didn't get local TV service until 1957 and the debut of
WSYE Channel 18, a satellite of Syracuse's WSYR-TV 3.  (Elmira
viewers were able to see Binghamton's channel 12, though).

Early UHF in the Empire State?  Binghamton's WINR-TV 40 bowed in
1957, followed in 1962 by WBJA on channel 34 (using a new allocation
opened by the closure of WILK-TV 34 Wilkes-Barre PA, which merged
with WARM-TV 16 Scranton to create WNEP Channel 16).

In Buffalo, NBC experimented with UHF O&Os starting in 1953 with
WBUF-TV 17 (its other UHF O&O was channel 30 in New Britain, of
course).  When NBC shuttered WBUF in 1959, the channel was donated
to educational TV, becoming WNED.  The lavish broadcast center 
NBC had built for WBUF in North Buffalo became (and remains) the
home of channel 4, then WBEN-TV, now WIVB.

No other Us would sign on upstate until the late 60s, starting with
educational WXXI (21) Rochester in 1966, followed by WSKG (46) 
Binghamton, WCNY (24) Syracuse, and WMHT (17) Schenectady within
a few years.  Most of these educational channels had been applied
for years earlier by the State University Board of Regents, which
never built its CPs, but passed them along to the local groups
starting each station (generally with new calls; Rochester's, for
example, had been WROH).

Commercial U debuts included indie WUTV (29) Buffalo in 1970, 
ABC affil WENY-TV (36) Elmira in 1969, and ABC affil WUTR (20) Utica
the same year.

More than anyone wanted to know, I'm quite certain...but hey, now
I have a decent start towards an upstate NY TV history for the
Archives :-)