Monday, 22 November 2004
|0820 - A complete waste of spectrum|
I was looking over the TV schedule for Wausau, WI, and marveling at the fact that the ABC affiliate there doesn't run Jimmy Kimmel Live until 1:35 AM (2:35 AM on Mondays!) when I ran across listings for a new station there, WTPX-DT on channel 46. I asked vakkotaur about it, and it didn't ring a bell with him. A bit of digging revealed a couple of tidbits: It's a PAX affiliate, and is unusual in that it's not even putting out an analog signal - and since its transmitter is in Antigo, east of Merrill, with a 50 kW effective radiated power level (1/10 that of the usual UHF TV station), that means its audience is probably pretty damned small. As one commenter in an online forum put it, "I would not be surprised if there are no DTV receivers within WTPX's coverage area." I wouldn't either.
I have to ask: With all that, why bother? They've gotta be paying a bunch in expenses, and getting almost zero ad/infomercial dollars in return.
current mood: amused
Same reason anyone wants an HD station... it's a landgrab for new spectrum. And it sure does seem like a waste...
There may be a simple explanation for this:
(1) Some of the PAX stations are essentially "repeaters," from what I understand, which essentially pick up a signal and broadcast it to another area. PAX is essentially a bunch of low-powered stations, and this is an el cheapo way of extending it out.
(2) This may be the tail-end of some deal PAX did, the equivalent of the sixth-round draft pick.
(3) PAX or the owner of the station may need to have a HD station for some reason, and this was the easiest way of checking the box.
(4) It's an experimental station of some kind, PAX may be trying out some type of technology.
(5) Someone at PAX is as dumb as a brick.
From Paxson Communications' last 10-K, from March of this year:
As nearly all of our owned and operated stations operate in the "ultra high frequency," or UHF, portion of the broadcast spectrum, only half of the number of television households they reach are counted against the national ownership cap under the Communications Act. By exercising our rights under the Communications Act to require cable television
system operators to carry the broadcast signals of our owned and operated stations, we reach many more television households in each station's designated market area, or DMA, than we would if our stations were limited to transmitting their broadcast signals over the airwaves.
I trust the implications of the last sentence are obvious.