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WIVB isn't 'going off the air'

Dominic Mancuso, the new general manager of WIVB-TV (Channel 4) and sister station WNLO-TV (Channel 23), had to deal Thursday with a scary story about the future of Channel 4 that was making the media rounds and concerned some agents for the station's personnel.

"It was much ado about nothing," said Mancuso. "The story was false and misleading."

He was referring to a confusing online report Thursday on a site many media members read that initially suggested that Nexstar, the new owner of both stations, was going to take Channel 4 off the air after its frequency was sold during the FCC's recent spectrum auction.

Since WIVB is believed to be worth much more than the $46 million the FCC said was received for spectrum, the idea that Nexstar would take Channel 4 off the air for that amount of money seemed to be off the wall.

It is all very technical, with the report seemingly based on the misreading of the FCC spectrum auction results. Mancuso said the stations' previous owner, Media General, sold the frequency of Channel 4, presumably to wireless carriers. But he added there is plenty of spectrum on Channel 23's frequency to keep both it and Channel 4 on the air to carry the same programming both stations have been carrying.

"We’re not going off the air," explained Mancuso. "It’s a technical change called channel sharing, where both stations will come off the same tower and transmitter instead of the two different towers and transmitters we have now.  Viewers will still receive WIVB on 4.1 and WNLO on 23.1."

He added viewers who get the channel through cable, Fios or satellite dishes won't notice any difference and that viewers who get the channel with over-the- air antennas will just have to do a re-scan on their TV once the change is made either by the end of the year or early in 2018.

"We will publicize when that will be but it will be many months away," added Mancuso.

Unlike the owners of WGRZ-TV (Channel 2), WKBW-TV (Channel 7) and WUTV (Channel 29) and WNYO (Channel 49), the previous owners of WIVB and WNLO have done the least amount with the extra spectrum.

"Bounce," an African-American broadcast network, is the only programing carried on a sub-channel of either WNLO or WIVB. Mancuso hopes there will be enough spectrum left also to keep Bounce on.

Mancuso referred to the channel-sharing arrangement as an engineering exercise that is permitted by the FCC rules and regulations established as part of the spectrum auction. He added Nexstar is investing in the most efficient technology to make it work.


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