No-service TV viewers will lose CBS programs


POSTED: Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Viewers hooked on KGMB-TV's local news or CBS network programs, but who watch the station over the air, will lose those shows when the station changes places with KFVE-TV.

A woman who called your columnist from Kalihi said one of the stations told her she would lose her signal when the stations swap channels.

“;She is correct,”; said Mike McCarthy, chief engineer of KGMB, whose job with the station will end in four days because of the shared services agreement between KGMB and KHNL/KFVE-TV. He referred your columnist to the chief engineer of KHNL/KFVE, who did not return a call.

Households that get TV over the air, and don't subscribe to cable or satellite services, are estimated to be about 2 percent of the statewide total, said Alan Pollock, vice president of marketing for Oceanic Time Warner Cable.

All three stations' transmission facilities are being upgraded according to a plan set in motion before any talk of a shared services agreement, and the loss of KGMB might last “;a couple weeks,”; said McCarthy, of KGMB.

Another source said it would likely not be rectified until the first quarter of next year.

The upgrade will make all three signals more powerful.

“;It should be so much improved that it solves the problem for most people who are having difficulty receiving KFVE now.”;

KGMB's transmitter will be moved from Kapiolani Boulevard to Palehua Ridge, which likely will allow the high-definition signal to reach Lihue, where “;people with a good roof-top antenna ... are much more likely to be able to pick up (high-definition signals) from all three stations,”; McCarthy said.

He did not have a date for the programming swap, and other officials have not returned calls, but it is expected to happen Monday, when the three stations' merged news operations begin airing newscasts under their new branding.

The Internet domain hawaiinewsnow.com is believed to be part of the new branding, as it was registered by Raycom, which has a place-holder page online.

The stations have released promotional materials for the three stations picturing 25 on-air personalities who have survived the merging of the news operations, along with the news schedule of each station.

KGMB currently airs 27 hours of news a week; KHNL airs 19 1/2 hours, and KFVE airs 3 1/2 hours a week.

The merged newsroom will air 35 1/2 hours of news each week, including KGMB/KHNL simulcasts on weekday mornings; at 5 and 10 p.m. on weekdays; and on Saturdays and Sundays.

Separately, the private equity firm that owns KGMB-TV has filed, with the Federal Communications Commission, its own objection to Media Council Hawaii's request that the commission block the station's shared services agreement.

It reads much like Friday's filing by KHNL/KFVE owner Raycom Media Inc.

The alternative to the agreement “;would have been to slash expenses to match its diminished revenue stream (and) to viewers, this would have meant less local news and lower-quality programming.”;