While TV-27 won’t be switching networks, Plattsburgh/Burlington may still get their Michigan J. Frog dreams. SMC Communications (the owner of WWBI) is planning to launch a new full-power sister-station as early as this fall.
WWBI General Manager Gary Clarke said in a June 13th phone interview, that if this new station (WSMC-DT Channel 40) were to sign on with the WB, that would leave Fox 44 without WB-programming. Fox 44 is primarily a Fox station and only has ‘secondary affiliation status,’ with the WB. Secondary affiliation status is often granted on a conditional basis, allowing the network to opt-out when a full-time/full-power affiliate becomes available. In the case of Fox 44, the WB can opt out with only 30 days notice, according to Clarke.
But SMC Communications has already tried this before.
“WWBI has been contending for some time that it will be awarded the [WB] assignment,” said Bill Sally at Fox 44 in a recent email. “[But] from an engineering standpoint the signal can’t even get into Plattsburgh… WWBI has been using this as a stunt to try to pick-up a Network affiliation.”
Clarke also said that the OTA signal for WSMC may reach a few Montrealers. But even if the it does, there will be an additional obstacle preventing people from watching. The new channel will be digital ONLY. Due to the upcoming conversion from analogue to digital in a few years, Clarke says it is just not worth it for new stations to invest in analogue equipment. Also don’t expect it to be added to the cable line-up any time soon, especially not analogue cable.
In the meantime we’ll have to wait and see if Quebec cable subscribers will soon find themselves WB-deprived. Keep in mind that the owners of TV-27 have a history of being rejected by major networks.
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