Getting WTAP on Satellite Systems

Some ask why they can't get WTAP on their satellite system.

I've been spending a lot of time recently in Wirt and some surrounding counties.

Invariably, someone will ask me why they can't get WTAP on their satellite system out there.

It's a complicated answer so I thought I'd try to explain it here.

A number of years ago, the Nielsen ratings organization divided the U.S. in to about 210 television markets, each one based around a city that had commercial TV stations.

The Parkersburg-Marietta area is its own TV market, as is Charleston-Huntington, Clarksburg, Wheeling, Columbus and so on.

Then, Nielsen determined which city's TV stations were watched the most - in aggregate-in each county. Then that county was placed in that city's TV market.

Obviously, the more TV stations a city had, the more aggregate viewing it got.

For more than 50 years, the Parkersburg-Marietta area only had WTAP, our NBC affiliate.

But those other communities had NBC, CBS, ABC and later, FOX affiliates.

So in counties like Wirt, Ritchie, Noble and Morgan counties, WTAP may have had the most viewership of any single station.  But some other city's TV stations, by virtue of the fact that they had so many, had the largest aggregate viewing.

The stations in Charleston and Huntington had more viewership - combined -- than WTAP in Wirt County. So Wirt Count was placed in the Charleston-Huntington TV market.

Ritchie was placed in the Clarksburg market.

Noble was placed in the Wheeling market.

And Morgan was placed in the Columbus market.

Wood, Washington and Pleasants were placed in the Parkersburg-Marietta TV market.

Thousands of households in more than a dozen other counties watch WTAP either free, over-the-air, or on cable systems like Suddenlink, CAS, Armstrong and Time Warner.

We have viewers in an area that includes Athens County to the west, Guernsey County to the north, Doddridge County to the east, and Mason County to the south.

But the satellite companies usually only carry the network affiliates that are designated in each county.

So there you have it.

We don't like it, but those are the rules.

That's this week's editorial.

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