STAY TUNED: DISH vs Waterman; WINK vs technology

BILL GREEN

For Waterman Broadcasting, operators of NBC 2 and ABC 7, it was about fair compensation from DISH network and, ultimately, adding ever so slightly to its bottom line. For WINK, it meant spending millions of dollars. For both, it came down to more eyeballs in front of the TV set.

No-crash satellite

A showdown between Waterman and DISH Network had a happy ending for viewers. Still, both NBC 2 and ABC 7 were using crawls at the bottom of the TV screen last weekend to let DISH subscribers know that they may be losing the channels.

DISH compensates broadcasters — cable and local stations — to carry their programming. Steve Pontius, executive vice president and GM for Waterman, told NBC 2 viewers that DISH compensation to the station was less than a penny per day and that the company was seeking only a fraction more.

WINK will be negotiating with DISH and Direct TV later this year. Greg Stetson, WINK program director, also sees the station's compensation as unfair.

"ESPN gets $4 a month for each subscriber, but I have more viewers than ESPN," he said.

While he wouldn't elaborate on the financials, Pontius says he's happy with the deal. Technically, the two parties reached a temporary six-day extension which was set to expire on Friday, but Pontius didn't expect any further issues.

"Thrilled," is how he summed things up, saying he was "convinced we made the right decision" not just for the company, but for viewers as well.

Pontius still has negotiations with Direct TV in June. As for DISH, the agreement is good for three years and a couple of weeks.

"No more negotiating on New Year's Eve," he said.

DISH Network released the following statement upon reaching an agreement with Waterman: "We are pleased to have reached this agreement ... allowing DISH Network to continue carrying their programming in the Fort Myers and Naples area."

A lot for a few

WINK is investing "several million dollars" to retain roughly 5 percent of its viewing audience. Say what? You heard me right.

Let's start at the beginning. Once upon a time, long ago, when stations broadcast in analog, there were two types of signals on the electromagnetic spectrum, ultra high frequency (UHF) and very high frequency (VHF).

For those of us who remember TVs with dials, channels 2-13, the top dial, was VHF. and below, the lower dial, for all other channels, was UHF.

In the time of the analog signal, WINK was the only VHF station in town. VHF was favored for better signal quality and easier reception.

Yes, I know, NBC calls itself 2, but it was used for the station's Comcast cable channel as their brand designation; NBC 2 was actually broadcast on UHF 20. ABC 7 was UHF Channel 26 and Fox 4 was Channel 36. Once broadcasters went digital, everything changed. Black was white. Up was down. OK, maybe not. But despite forecasts, UHF turned out to be better than VHF when it came to digital signals.

Although WINK doesn't use a numerical identifier, it originally broadcast on VHF channel 11. After the digital conversion, it moved to VHF channel 9, although digital sets continue to show the channel broadcasters want them to see — 4, 7, 11, etc.

Viewers who receive an over-the-air signal complained about poor reception with WINK on this new spectrum. Despite the fact that that's less than 5 percent of their audience, WINK decided to invest in a new antenna, transmitter and equipment.

For the techie folks out there, starting Thursday morning, WINK is now broadcasting on UHF channel 50. However, all you need to do is rescan your digital set for channels, and WINK will pop back up in the same spot it has always been. Isn't technology grand?

If you have satellite or cable, there's no need to do anything.

So why make such a big investment for such a small return?

"We wanted to make sure that everyone that wanted to get our signal could get us easily," said Stetson.

I think it might have been cheaper just to pay those 5 percent's cable bill.

If you have questions or difficulties, WINK has a special number set up: 479-5588.

New morning at CBS

You've seen the last "Early Show." Starting Monday, the eye network presents a new morning show with a familiar name.

"CBS This Morning" promises no cooking segments, no national weather, and a more serious tone.

Two big names come with the program, Charlie Rose of PBS fame, and Oprah's best friend, Gayle King.

Will you be watching? Let me know what you think: bgreen@naplesnews.com.

Until next time, stay tuned.

Bill Green is a Naples Daily News/naplesnews.com journalist and a professional couch potato. Contact him at bgreen@naplesnews.com. Connect with him at facebook.com/billdgreen.

© 2012 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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