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Ch.2, DirecTV Problem Easily Solved

Ed Drantch: Back to Reporting Soon

Here we go again.

I awoke this morning in time to see a crawl running during NBC’s “Today” show warning Channel 2 viewers they could lose Sunday Night Football and other network programming if they have DirecTV and a deal isn’t reached to keep the station on by midnight Friday.

So I Googled Gannett – which owns Channel 2 – and DirecTV – and discovered that the dispute is a national issue between the media giant and the satellite provider.

Of course, Western New Yorkers have been down this road before and should be prepared for it.

I still have the rabbit ears antenna that Time Warner Cable gave me years ago when it had a dispute with Channel 4. That antenna has become handy a few times when other carriers had disputes with other station owners that threatened to take the local channels off the air.  

Channel 2 viewers are more likely to use rabbit ear antennas, too, since it is the one station that carries programming on an extra digital channel. Channel 2 is on digital channel 2-1. Antenna TV, which carries old programs, is on digital channel 2-2.

All you have to do with an HD set is plug in the rabbit ears, change your source on your remote and you’ll get Channel 2 and Antenna TV crystal clear.

In fact, I still use my rabbit ears on Bills football Sundays because Channel 4 comes in much clearer via rabbit ears than it does on cable, which splits its signal with many other homes.

This may not work in certain remote areas with homes that were initially most likely to get satellite TV. But most people should be able to get Channel 2 even if the two sides don’t immediately come to terms.

I had to laugh Wednesday when I received a release from Channel 4 with the headline “NEWS 4 Completes a Strong November Sweeps!”

According to the station spin, News 4 “was the No. 1 rated news organization from noon until late night.”

In other words, Channel 4 decided to eliminate the early morning newscasts that are dominated by Channel 2 to proclaim some sort of victory. It wins, 49.4-44.4, by doing so. It margin of “victory” comes from its wins at noon when Channel 2 doesn’t compete, at 10 p.m. when its newscast is on a stronger channel than Channel 2’s and at 11 p.m. when Channel 4’s victory margin has significantly decreased.

I half-expected Channel 2 to respond by sending a release noting that it is No. 1 from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and eliminate the later evening newscasts when Channel 4 wins big. Channel 2’s margin of victory from 5 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. is 57.0-50.9.

Spin aside, Channel 2 is now the news leader when all newscasts are counted and it has the momentum practically everywhere.

Channel 4’s spin also notes that it had year-to-year household ratings growth in three times periods and ratings increases over May for several newscasts.

All true. But that was inevitable considering how much news there was during the November sweeps, which featured a presidential race and several key local political races and the devastation of Hurricane Sandy. In addition, people generally are more interested in news in November than they are in May, when the weather is expected to improve.

I’m hearing that Channel 4 plans to move soon to shore up its weakest news block in the early morning and hire at least one and possibly two new anchors for “Wake Up!” My spies tell me that a male anchor from Texas was recently brought in as a serious candidate to replace Joe Arena. The station went with Nalina Shapiro and Ed Drantch as morning co-anchors in November. Drantch is expected to go back to reporting, where he is much better suited.

Suggestion to Channel 7: If ABC will allow it, I’d move “General Hospital” back to 3 p.m. to give Katie Couric’s new talk show a strong lead-in and a chance to succeed in this market. Ricki Lake’s talk show is killing Katie. “GH” does very well here at 2 p.m. It gets four times the audience of Lake’s show.


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3 responses to "Ch.2, DirecTV Problem Easily Solved"

  1. Matt Byrnes says:

    Hi Alan, WIVB Bills game and other HD programming are equally bad on Directv. I have had both DTV and Time Warner recently and have griped about this issue on here before. While rabbit ears may cut out whatever compression the providers are adding it still is junk. I was talking to a WIVB employee who told me its bad because of how old their HD broadcasting equipment is. Such a shame.

  2. I’m starting to wonder why DirecTV has started to become more hardline in recent months regarding the whole subscription-fee thing. That’s usually been an issue with the budget-level Dish (have they lifted the MSG blackout there yet?) but not with DirecTV, which has always been the premium, get as many channels as possible service. Perhaps a change in management?

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