Thursday, July 28, 2011

Kill Analog TV Channel 6 ...

America’s Channel 6 “radio stations” could be out of business by Fall 2015.

A new FCC Order analyzed by attorney David Oxenford here says there’s finally a deadline for digital conversion of Low Power TV, TV translator and Class A TV stations - September 15, 2015. The fate of Channel 6 low power TV stations who are leasing out their audio to operators at 87.7 FM is very low on the FCC’s list of priorities.

What the Genachowski FCC really cares about is “re-packing” the overall TV spectrum to free more spectrum to be auctioned off and re-used for wireless broadband. But the result of the Order is to bring some finality to the digital question – how long would America’s remaining analog TV stations be allowed to operate? The argument has been economic – that converting these modestly-budgeted operations to digital would be prohibitively expensive.

The argument’s also been about diversity, since many LPTV operators are minorities or otherwise outside the traditional broadcast fraternity. But the FCC’s larger goal of pursuing broadband is going to trump the diversity argument. David Oxenford says “the quasi-FM stations may well be out of the audio business by September 2015.”

In the early '80's, in Richmond VA, our biggest radio format competitor was WTVR/FM98.  I discovered during diary studies at Arbitron in Beltsville that a huge number of "WTVR listeners" were not really radio listeners during the afternoon at all, but Channel 6 (WTVR-TV) viewers listening to what was then the hugely TV ratings-winning CBS series of soaps and listening, in offices, to the TV audio on FM radios at 87.7FM.

No amount of objection that I raised would get Arbitron to eliminate the TV listening data from their study.  As long as the call letters were the same as TV, they were also of the FM, and so counted on the radio band and in the radio ratings.

I've never had any faith in Arbitron data since then.