The end is near for WOTH-TV viewers. Channel 20 will stop broadcasting the afternoon of Tuesday, Jan. 23.
As I reported in December, WOTH-TV is one of three area stations being paid millions to go off the air permanently this year as part of a huge national digital TV channel realignment. Called the "repack," the move makes more of the broadcast spectrum available for cell phone and other wireless companies.
Here's an update from Elliott Block, WOTH-TV president:
QUESTION: When will WOTH-TV sign off?
ANSWER: "The transmitter will be turned off on the 23rd in the afternoon," he says.
Q: Will your sister station WQBC/WKRP (Channel 25) add any of WOTH-TV's programming networks? WOTH-TV's lineup includes Movies (Channel 20.1), Decades' 1960s reruns (Channel 20.2); BUZZR game shows (Channel 20.3); Heroes & Icons TV drama reruns (Channel 20.4); Newsmax TV (Channel 20.5); The Action Channel (Channel 20.6) ; Home Shopping Network (Channel 20.7); and Evine home shopping (Channel 20.8) .
A: Maybe. Block is working on it, but he's frustrated.
"We are still waiting for some of the networks to (be able to) transition them on to WKRP. It's tied up in three legal departments. We have been trying to get this done for months," he says.
"We will need to order and install new equipment to add channels. We don't have a timetable on that yet."
Q: Which networks could switch to Channel 25?
"Once we get the contracts all in place, I'll let you know which ones made the cut. FYI, from viewers' calls, the most popular ones were in this order: Heroes & Icons, Movies, Decades, BUZZR and Newsmax. We can't add them all," he says.
Block posted this message last month on the WOTH-TV website: "WKRP Channel 25 is trying to make room for the networks currently on WOTH-TV Channel 20. Unfortunately, not all will make the transition, as space is very limited. We can confirm Newsmax won’t make the transition to WKRP Channel 25. The network informed us they are ceasing agreements with their broadcast affiliates."
Q: Are other changes coming to the Channel 25 lineup?
A: "We will be adding a new network called Quest in the first quarter of 2018."
Quest is owed by TEGNA, the former Gannett broadcasting division. Quest will air "Storm Chasers," "Modern Marvels," "Appalachian Outlaws," "Auction Kings," "Life After People," "Dangerous Flights," "WWI: The First Modern War" and "Sci-Trek." Quest's site describes its programming as "featuring nature's greatest dangers, history's greatest mysteries and man's greatest achievements."
Q: What other stations are going dark?
A: As I reported last month, shutting down in April is Trinity Broadcasting's WKOI-TV (Channel 43) licensed to Richmond, Ind., and broadcasting religious programming from a tower north of Hamilton since 1982.
Dayton's WBDT-TV (Channel 26) -- which multicasts the CW, Bounce and Ion networks – also agreed to end broadcasting. No announcement has been made yet about shutting down. It is expected that the CW network will be added as a subchannel by WDTN-TV (Channel 2), which operates Channel 26.