Scary news about the analog TV phaseout!

Scott Fybush
Fri Feb 1 17:32:11 EST 2008

Cohasset / Hippisley wrote:

> I live 60 miles NNE of Utica, NY, and subscribe to Dish Network, including
> the "local" channel option (which in this area means the Syracuse stations).
> But I prefer to get my local news from Channel 2 in Utica (they have a
> *very* cute morning anchor), but Utica is not part of *any* satellite TV
> "local" channel lineups.  Since I don't have CATV here, I have erected a
> "deep-fringe" TV antenna in order to do the best job I can of getting a
> decent OTA signal out of the WKTV.
> Even now, during a sunspot minimum, the old-fashioned analog signal is
> marginal at best (always snowy, even when not experiencing multipath
> ghosting from the mountains between them and me).  During sunspot maxima or
> periods of sporadic E-skip, Utica gets totally obliterated by other Channel
> 2 stations from New England to Ottawa to Missouri.
> How will I get WKTV a year from now?  Since there's already one NBC
> affiliate in the Syracuse "local" channels on Dish, what's the odds of Utica
> being added?  And, more generally, there are zip codes adjacent to mine that
> aren't *allowed* (by FCC, according to Dish) to have Syracuse "locals" at
> all!  In one direction, they must take Albany; in another direction, they
> can't take anything at all in upstate NY, and must settle for NYC or Chicago
> or....

The Utica TV market is a very strange beast. Because Utica itself was a 
single-station city for so long (WKTV was the only game in town from 
1949 until WUTR's sign-on in 1970), the Syracuse and Albany stations 
always enjoyed wide viewership in the area. When market boundaries were 
delineated, Utica ended up without even the whole of Oneida County in 
its market - western Oneida, including the city of Rome, are technically 
considered part of the Syracuse market. And Utica is still dependent on 
Syracuse's CBS and PBS outlets, having none of its own.

That's made it very unattractive for the satellite companies to offer 
local-into-local service, because the old rules for that service said 
they could NOT offer anything out-of-market, no matter how 
"significantly viewed" it might be in the market. So any company 
offering local-into-local for Utica would be limited to WKTV (NBC), WUTR 
(ABC), WFXV (Fox) and maybe the low-power My Network affiliate WPNY. 
(Indeed, the cable system in Rome carries the full roster of Syracuse 
signals, including minor players like Univision affiliate WNYI and Pax 
affiliate WSPX, but doesn't carry the My or CW affiliates from nearby 

Thankfully, those rules are on the verge of changing to reflect the 
reality of TV viewing in rural areas. New Hampshire was a big part of 
this - while southern NH is part of the Boston market and gets all the 
Boston stations plus WMUR, northern NH is divided between Burlington and 
Portland, meaning satellite customers in places like Hanover and Berlin 
and Pittsburg can't see any New Hampshire news from WMUR or public 
affairs from WENH/NHPTV.

Under the new rules, satellite companies will be able to offer in-state, 
out-of-market signals to local viewers who wouldn't otherwise be able to 
get them - and they'll have more flexibility in adding 
"significantly-viewed" out-of-market signals, which means a "Utica" 
package could be created that would include WKTV/WUTR/WFXV, plus WTVH 
and WCNY from Syracuse, at the very minimum. That might encourage the 
satellite companies to finally offer local-into-local service for 
customers considered to be in the Utica and Watertown markets 
(Watertown's in the same boat as Utica, without a full complement of 
network affiliates.)
> Scott mentioned single-channel DTV booster systems for rough and outlying
> terrain.  Can anyone here comment on their cost and what, if any, regulatory
> hurdles will need to be overcome by a station such as Utica Channel 2 in
> order to get them installed?

These are, essentially, on-channel translators. Right now, they're 
authorized under experimental licenses (there's a system running in NYC 
right now on channels 12 and 33 to test the concept, and WTVE-DT in the 
Philly market is building a system with eight or nine transmitters 
spread across NJ, PA, DE and even into a corner of MD).

In theory, they shouldn't cost much more than a translator would cost. 
The only additional expense is GPS synchronization to make sure the 
boosters are precisely timed to the main channel.

Bud, have you tried reception of WKTV-DT on channel 29? Its UHF signal 
should be immune to most of the propagation woes that afflict channel 2 
where you are. And I'm pretty sure it's now operating at full power, at 
long last.


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