Starting September 14, DirecTV will begin offering all three of WTAP’s stations via satellite in Wood, Washington and Pleasants counties.
DirecTV has been working on this project and testing its equipment for the past few weeks but just gave the final OK to the launch today.
WTAP’s NBC and FOX Parkersburg stations will be carried in High Definition on DirecTV. WTAP’s My5 station, which is only available in Standard Definition, will also be carried by DirecTV.
DISH TV is already offering WTAP’s NBC and FOX stations in standard definition in Wood, Washington and Pleasants counties. DISH does not carry My5.
“This is a great day for WTAP, its viewers, and its advertisers,” says Roger Sheppard, vice-president and general manager of WTAP. “It will make our programming and commercials even more readily available to people living in rural areas. It will also be a help to those living in more urban areas who, for whatever reason, have been thinking about getting satellite TV but were waiting until local stations were offered.”
Some DirecTV customers have already contacted the company to get their equipment updated to automatically receive these stations when they are launched. But other DirecTV customers will still need to make that contact in order to see the local stations when they become available.
This expanding satellite carriage is made possible by the passage and signing of the Satellite Television Extension and Localization Act (STELA) of 2010, which gave satellite providers more latitude as to which stations they could carry.
WTAP viewers living outside of those three counties will NOT be able to receive WTAP’s station via satellite since they are not considered to be in the Parkersburg-Marietta market. But WTAP’s three stations will still be available free over the air and its NBC station will still be available on some cable companies in the surrounding counties.
“This local carriage will pretty much bring to an end the Waiver Era,” Sheppard says. “That was when some people in our local area were allowed to receive distant NBC and FOX signals and some were not, based upon where they lived. The local TV stations were put in the uncomfortable position of sometimes having to deny satellite customers the right to receive a distant station, and that was no fun for anyone. But now, those days are pretty much over.”
WTAP’s NBC station is already available free over the air on digital channel 15.1. It is also available on multiple cables systems throughout the region, on various channel numbers. It is routinely ranked as one of America’s most-watched local TV stations in terms of percentage of households in the market that are watching from sign on to sign off each day.
WTAP’s FOX Parkersburg station is available free over the air on digital channel 15.2. It is also available on multiple cables systems in Wood, Washington and Pleasants counties on various channel numbers. In addition to carrying all of FOX’s great prime time and sports programming, FOX Parkersburg carries a local newscast each weeknight at 10pm and also shows high school football games during the fall.
And WTAP’s MyNetwork station (called “My5”) is available free over the air on digital channel 15.3. It is also available on multiple cables systems in Wood, Washington and Pleasants counties on various channel numbers. My5 is the local Mountaineer Sports Network (MSN) station, carrying a number of WVU and Big East football and basketball games each season. It also carries local high school and college football games each season.