WOWT-TV has been exploring ways to return Channel 6 and NBC programming to local radio airwaves. While the station has a tentative agreement on the local level, WOWT must now wait for a decision from NBC before moving forward.
WOWT General Manager Charlie Peterson said Thursday, "The decision is in NBC's hands at this point; WOWT has done everything we can from a local stand point. Now we are told we cannot proceed without the network’s permission."
While WOWT can make decisions about the material it produces, the station does NOT have the legal right to retransmit copyrighted material produced by the NBC Network or its program suppliers. Peterson indicated the station has been in talks with NBC for several weeks trying to convince the network to allow WOWT to retransmit NBC audio. So far the network's attorneys have not made a decision.
On February 17th, many Channel 6 News viewers discovered an unwanted side effect of the switch to digital TV. The audio signal from Channel 6 could no longer be heard at 87.7 on the FM radio spectrum.
Here's why this happened: TV and Radio stations use designated areas of the electromagnetic spectrum, set by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), to broadcast their signals. The area designated for TV Channel 6 ended at 88 MHz (megahertz) on the spectrum. The area designated for FM radio began at 88 MHz.
This created a special benefit for Channel 6 TV stations all over the country because the audio they broadcast could be heard on many FM radios at 87.7.
February 17, 2009, WOWT-TV along with hundreds of other TV stations across the United States stopped broadcasting its ANALOG signal. The DIGITAL signal we are broadcasting is at a completely different place on the spectrum. That's why Channel 6 can no longer be heard at 87.7 on the radio.
Because the ability to hear Channel 6 on the radio was something of a technological "accident", neither the local stations nor the networks could do anything about it. It was just there.
Retransmission on radio now, however, would be a deliberate business decision and as such it requires the cooperation and consent of the NBC Network. To this point NBC has not made a decision.
As we move deeper into the digital age Channel 6 News is pioneering many new avenues for keeping our viewers informed. News and information updates are available on the Internet, on cell phones, in emails, and through our Desktop Alert system. Information on all of these can be right here on our web channel. Just check out the information on the left-hand side of our home page.