TheNewsCenter | Parkersburg, West Virginia | News, Weather & Sports

WTAP Stations on Satellite

By: Roger Sheppard
By: Roger Sheppard

After many years of waiting by WTAP and residents of the Mid-Ohio Valley, WTAP’s NBC and FOX Parkersburg stations were launched by DISH on June 3, 2010 and by DirecTV in mid-2011 . That means that DISH and DirecTV customers in Wood, Washington and Pleasants counties can now receive the local stations, rather than distant ones.

DISH customers are only able to receive WTAP’s NBC and FOX Parkersburg stations in standard definition (SD) and not in high definition (HD). DISH does not carry our MyNetwork station (which we call “My5”), at all. These are technical decisions that DISH has made. WTAP provides its NBC and FOX stations in HD to DirecTV, and DirecTV also carries WTAP’s My5 station. WTAP would be happy to provide all of this to DISH as well, whenever it wants them.

DISH customers who receive our local stations, also get their ABC and CBS stations from Clarksburg and a national feed of PBS. DirecTV customers receive their ABC and CBS stations from Columbus, along with a feed of PBS.

Following are some FAQs abouit our carriage on satellite:

Q: What took so long for WTAP to get on satellite?

A: WTAP’s parent company had reached an agreement with both Dish and DirecTV in about 2004, to put ALL of the Gray stations on satellite. The satellite companies have been launching satellites and HD services, as well as waiting for certain concessions from the federal government before offering stations in every one of the 210 TV markets in the U.S. Congress eventually passed and President Obama signed into law the Satellite Television Extension and Localization Act (STELA) of 2010, which gave the satellite companies enough of what they wanted to make universal carriage possible.

Q: What did the satellite companies get with STELA?

A: They got the opportunity to offer nearby stations to folks living in markets that did not have certain affiliates. For example, the Parkersburg-Marietta market has an NBC affiliate (WTAP) and a FOX affiliate (FOX Parkersburg). But it does NOT have an ABC or CBS affiliate. Up until now, if you wanted CBS or ABC via satellite, you could only get them from places like New York or Los Angeles. That’s different than cable, which has always had the right to import nearby stations. Satellite wanted “a level playing field” to offer the same thing. As a result, if local Dish customers want WTAP (NBC) and FOX Parkersburg, they will also get a CBS and ABC affiliate from Clarksburg, WV. DirecTV customers receive their ABC and CBS stations from Columbus, along with a feed of PBS.

Q: Why are the satellite companies offering CBS and ABC stations from Clarksburg and Columbus and not Huntington-Charleston?

A: We’re not sure why. This was a decision made by the satellite companies, with the approval of the FCC.

Q: Why are WTAP’s stations only going to be available by satellite to people living in Wood, Washington and Pleasants counties? Folks in Wirt, Ritchie, Noble and Morgan counties really depend upon the local news and weather from WTAP, too.

A: It’s because only Wood, Washington and Pleasants counties are officially in the Parkersburg-Marietta TV market or DMA (Dominant Market Area). Wirt County is in the Huntington-Charleston DMA. Ritchie County is in the Clarksburg DMA. Noble County is in the Wheeling-Steubenville DMA. And Morgan County is in the Columbus DMA. For the folks living in those counties, their “local affiliates” are the stations that come out of those larger cities.

Q: If I’m already a satellite customer or if I want to get on satellite, what do I need to do to get the local stations?

A: Contact the satellite companies directly or your local satellite dealers. You may or may not need to change equipment depending on what level of service you already have with your satellite provider. Your overall monthly cost should not change significantly, unless you’re adding more total channels. Two local satellite dealers are Shadix Radio & TV in Marietta and Digisat in South Parkersburg.

Q: Why isn’t DISH offering WTAP (NBC) and FOX Parkersburg in HD?

A: We’re not sure. It probably has to do with the satellite that Dish selected to launch these local stations on. Apparently, that satellite is very crowded with other signals and there isn’t enough room on it for all of our stations, or for any of our stations in HD. We hope that will change in the near future. DISH has access to the same signals, right from WTAP’s central equipment room, that DirecTV, CAS Cable and Suddenlink Cable are using. And those other companies are offering our NBC and FOX stations in HD and our My5 in its native SD format.

Q: Will I need new equipment to receive these two local stations?

A: You might. But then again, you might not. WTAP (NBC) and FOX Parkersburg are on Dish satellite “129” which is the designation for this satellite which is in the southwestern sky. This is the satellite that Dish has most of its HD signals on (even though Dish is NOT yet offering our two local stations in HD). If you are a subscriber to Dish’s HD channels and your system is already “aimed” at satellite “129,” you may not need to purchase any new equipment. However, if you are NOT a subscriber to any of Dish’s HD services, your system could be aimed at satellite “110” or “119.” If this is the case, you made need a new “dish,” (receiver) capable of seeing your present satellite AND satellite “129.”

Q: What channels will WTAP (NBC) and FOX Parkersburg be on?

A: WTAP (NBC) will be on DISH channel 6532 on satellite 129. FOX Parkersburg will on channel 6533 on satellite 129. (New info; updated June 4, 2010.) WTAP’s NBC station is on DirecTV channel 15; FOX Parkersburg on DirecTV channel 16; and My5 on DirecTV channel 17.

Q: Why isn’t WTAP’s third station – MY5 – being offered on DISH?

A: Not sure, other than My5 (the local name we’ve given to our MyNetwork-affiliated station) only has 10 hours of each week dedicated to network programming. That could be a factor in Dish’s decision. But that has not kept DirecTV from offering My5.

Q: If I’m an advertiser with WTAP, will my local commercial be seen on WTAP via satellite?

A: ABSOLUTELY! Regardless of the manner in which a person receives WTAP (NBC) or FOX Parkersburg -- in High Definition or in Standard Definition -- the commercials GO OUT TO EVERYONE. That goes for folks who see the stations free, over-the-air on an antenna in HD or SD, folks who watch our stations in HD or SD on Suddenlink or CAS Cable, folks who watch our stations in SD on Lowell Community Cable, Time Warner Cable, Armstrong Cable…OR FOR DISH AND DIRECTV CUSTOMERS WHO WILL WATCH OUR STATIONS VIA SATELLITE. You should know that that is NOT the case for advertisers who buy commercials on Suddenlink Cable. If a local advertiser buys spots on ESPN, THOSE COMMERCIALS WILL NOT BE SEEN ON ESPN’S HIGH DEFINITION VERSION OF THAT SAME PROGRAM! This is important as HD becomes more and more the standard and as the number of homes with HDTV sets grows higher and higher.

Q: What if I have more questions?

A: Call Dish, DirecTV, or call Shadix TV & Radio in Marietta, or Digisat in South Parkersburg. You can also call WTAP’s General Manager, Roger Sheppard at 304-481-8110.


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