First and foremost, I am speaking on the behalf on anyone who has cable or satellite in Grant County. Secondly, I also speak to anyone that like yours truly whom until the WISH-TV/Bright House dispute of October 2008 decided to end the cable television subscription just because the cable company no longer carries the big four Fort Wayne television stations, and forced some to whom I say I applaud you to now rely on over-the-air television.
First, some background (WHERE DID WFFT-TV GO):
Industry-wide, the United States is divided into 210 television markets. The largest is New York City, with Glendive, Montana, the smallest. The Fort Wayne market is the 109th largest, with approximately 600,000 television homes. Each market has defined boundaries. Fort Wayne has 11 counties.
However, the Fort Wayne market does not include Grant County – which is, unfortunately, in the Indianapolis market, which is the 26th largest with approximately 2.5 million television homes in 32 counties.
Why is that important?
In the case of WFFT, the Fox Broadcasting Company (FOX) is enforcing contract language with companies that retransmit a FOX station’s signal –for example Bright House (Marion, Gas City, Jonesboro) and Comcast (Upland, Fairmount) – that only the affiliate for that market be provided on a channel lineup. As such, the signal of WFFT, unfortunately–despite being significantly viewed in Grant County, has been removed from the channel lineups in those areas I mentioned, such as Grant County, where just WXIN (Marion Cable channel 11) is provided.
This is absolutely not being done at the request of either WXIN or WFFT and like many of my friends, fans, followers in Grant County–like you–no longer have access to WFFT.
In the case of WANE-TV–the Fort Wayne CBS affiliate (former Marion cable channel 20), five years ago LIN TV of Providence (which also owns fellow Indianapolis CBS affiliate WISH-TV), began enforcing contract language with Bright House that retransmits the signals of WISH and WANE. Unlike the case of WFFT, is affiliated with FOX, whereas WANE and WISH have been very close sister stations for as long as I can remember. However, five years after the WISH-TV/Bright House dispute and seeing this from what I believe, and thus have a theory led to the Marion repercussions that soon followed with the removal of WPTA and WISE-TV.
My theory is that five and a half years ago right after my 25th birthday in January 2008 while INNewsCenter was in operation, I had revived an email from a LIN TV Indianapolis official concerning YouTube videos I posted on the INNewsCenter YouTube channel, that not only paved to my eventual decision to take INNewsCenter offline in June 2011. The theory is that LIN TV of Providence (Rhode Island) knew that what the big four networks (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX) were going to try to do were basically create a pay TV-big five (ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CW) television network (or the lesser Pay TV-Station) model of strict contractual policies against network signal duplication (Marion’s a clear example since Bright House is the only major cable television provider) from out-of-market signals in other markets (thus Bright House still carries mostly Indianapolis’ big four stations and eventually discontinuing of Fort Wayne stations on Bright House), basically meaning discontinuation of out-of-market distribution; all of the communities listed have their own broadcast network affiliates.
While the network’s programming may be the same on Fox stations WFFT and WXIN; CBS stations WANE-TV and WISH-TV; NBC stations WISE-TV and WTHR; and ABC stations WPTA and WRTV, many other shows – particularly the FWA and INDY newscasts, football shows, IndyStyle on WISH-TV, are unique to aforementioned stations. If a cable company chose to carry WFFT (and very unlikely re-carry WANE-TV, WISE-TV, and WPTA) for local programs, the cable company would have to block out all the network shows that are duplicated from the network – and in most cases cable companies do not provide a channel when they have to block out so many programs.
Viewers like myself that lost WANE-TV on October 2, 2008, WPTA and WISE-TV on January 1, 2009, and WFFT via Bright House Networks have just ONE Option–get the Fort Wayne stations with an outdoor antenna (no higher than 60 feet as an FAA requirement–if your apartment complex allows this in the lease), but success with an indoor antenna isn’t guaranteed given the distances involved.
I ALWAYS OFFER THIS ADVICE (and have done so since my mother founded NoSirGifts, a gift/media retailer that has since closed stores due to Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in 2013)–make sure to get an antenna that receives BOTH VHF and UHF signals. As assigned by the FCC, WFFT’s broadcast signal is on Channel 36.1 (PSIP 55.1); WANE-TV is Channel 31.1 (PSIP 15.1); WPTA is channel 24.1 (PSIP 21.1); and WISE-TV is 18.1 (PSIP 33.1). The Indianapolis stations, however, BOTH use VHF and UHF signals that’ll come in pretty much handy should a cable/sattelite dispute like the WISH-TV/Bright House dispute in October 2008, WXIN/DirecTV dispute in April 2012, and WTHR/DISH Network dispute in September 2002.
As for why the networks will do this, at the end of the day, it all comes down to protecting the local affiliate within a select market.
- If a viewer in Grant County living in Marion watches “American Idol” on WFFT “Fox Local 55” and records that with Nielsen, WFFT does not get ratings credit for it because it’s outside the Fort Wayne market. And because that viewer in Marion didn’t watch WXIN “Fox 59”, they can’t get credit. So, Fox 59 doesn’t get any credit for a viewer that watched American Idol. With Fox Local 55 (and basically all the Fort Wayne stations) taken off the Bright House Networks system in Marion, viewers in Marion, Gas City, and Jonesboro (and eventually Comcast will do the same in Hartford City/Upland/Fairmount) there will have to watch Fox 59 for American Idol – and WXIN and FOX will get the appropriate credit.
- If a viewer in Ripley County watches “The Voice” on WTHR “13NBC” and records that with Nielsen, 13NBC does not get ratings credit for it because Ripley County is outside the Indianapolis market. And because that viewer didn’t watch WLWT, they can’t get credit. So, WLWT-TV doesn’t get any credit for a viewer that watched The Voice. With 13NBC off the Comcast system in Lawrenceburg/Versalles, viewers there will have to watch WLWT for The Voice – and WLWT and NBC will get the appropriate credit.
- If a viewer in Kosiusco County living in Warsaw watches “Dancing With the Stars” on WPTA “21Alive” and records that with Nielsen, 21Alive does not get ratings credit for it because Kosisoco County is outside the Fort Wayne market. And because that viewer didn’t watch WBND-TV “ABC 57”, they can’t get credit. So, ABC 57 doesn’t get any credit for a viewer that watched Dancing with the Stars. With 21Alive more likely to be off the cable system in Warsaw, viewers there will have to watch ABC 57 for Dancing with the Stars – and WBND-TV and ABC will get the appropriate credit.
- If a viewer in Tippecanoe County living in Lafayette watches “The Price is Right” on WISH-TV and records that with Nielsen, WISH-TV does not get ratings credit for it because Tippecanoe County is outside the Indianapolis market. And because that viewer didn’t watch WLFI–even though there’s no ABC, NBC or Fox affiliate in the Lafayette market, they can’t get credit, and WLFI may as well be a semi-satellite of WISH. So, WLFI doesn’t get any credit for a viewer that watched Dancing with the Stars. With WISH more likely to be off the cable system in Lafayette, viewers there will have to watch WLFI for Dancing with the Stars – and WLFI and CBS will get the appropriate credit.
We know it may not make a lot of sense. Marion, Muncie Central, and Anderson High Schools are in a conference with a Fort Wayne area high school while Mississinewa, Eastbrook, Oak Hill, and Madison-Grant are in a conference with a high school in the Indianapolis DMA, for example. Or maybe you just like Fort Wayne and/or Indianapolis newscasts better. I don’t blame you for that. However, in this case, we’re all paying more when you come to think of it.
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