Occasionally, I like to take a look at what is happening in other TV markets than my own, in Fargo. I like to see what is happening, particularly in the brave new world of digital sub channels, which allow more than one programming stream. So, a station can break its channel down to more than one and broadcast two different programming streams. Usually, the local station is primarily affiliated with a major network and carries a minor programming service, or a service that has been designed for these digital sub channels.
I am from Central Wisconsin and there is a plethora of over the air broadcast channels available in what is known as the Wausau/Stevens Point/Rhinelander market.
Channel Seven-is the oldest station in the area and has always primarily been affiliated with CBS. In its early years it carried secondary affiliations with other broadcast networks, meaning it carried other network’s programs. It went through Dumont and NBC before settling on ABC, which it kept as a secondary affiliate through the mid-60s. Its digital sub channel on 7.2 is MyTV, which programs prime time second-run dramas for a couple of hours in prime time. That leaves the rest of the schedule open for syndication to be filled by the station.
Channel 9-Is, and has been the area’s ABC affiliate since the mid-60s. It currently has two digital sub channels. It carries The CW on one and ThisTV, a free movie channel owned by Weigel Broadcasting. Those channels are 9.2 and 9.3 respectively.
Channel 12-This is the NBC affiliate out of Rhinelander and unlike the other two station mentioned above, is not in Wausau. Over the air, it is on a translator for Channel 27. Channel 27 does not have any digital sub channels. But, Channel 12 carries the classic TV network, Antenna TV on Channel 12.1.
Channel 55-This, is the Fox Network affiliate and is a relative newcomer on the scene. It, of course, carries the Fox primetime network on its main channel, 55.1. It also carries two classic TV channels on its digital sub channels, 55.2 and 55.3, on which it carries RetroTV and MeTV.
Channel 20-This is the local PBS station. It has a main channel and two digital sub channels. It carries its main PBS programming on 20.1. It then carries what’s called The Wisconsin Network which programs Wisconsin Public Television produced content, along with PBS Kids, which is PBS’s daily children’s programming. This is on 20.2 it also carries the public network called, Create, which is how-to and d-i-y shows. This is carried on 20.3
Channel 46-This is an interesting entity. It is a transmitter owned and operated by the Ion Network, and the transmitter is in Antigo, Wisconsin. That means, it carries Ion’s prime time run of second-run hour-long dramas and WWE wrestling. The main Ion network, plus syndicated programming is carried on 46.1. The children’s network, qubo, is carried on 46.2. Ion Life, which features health, wellness, and lifestyle programming during the day and movies at night, is carried on 46.3.
As you can see, when it comes to over the air programming in this area, the digital sub channels are used pretty extensively by the local programmers. There is a variety of viewing available in the area for over-the-air viewers and with a good digital antenna and good placement of that antenna, there is no need for cable in this area.
This market is hardly the largest one in the United States, but for a smaller market, it offers over-the-air viewers a wide variety of programming for classic TV to local news, to life style programs.