Some may wonder how a licensee can be booted off a virtual anything, but this is the case for what is now WJLP-TV Middletown NJ. The station, which is no stranger to controversy, earned the ire of a trio of major television groups – CBS, Meredith and Ion — which joined together to protest the number it was using for its virtual channel.
Two of the protestors were also using virtual Channel 3 and the other virtual Channel 31. Perhaps ironically, the only one of the four stations in the case that was actually on digital Channel 3 is WJLP. It’s owned by PMCM TV and serves the New York market.
Meredith objected to a CP for the station on the sole basis of its use of Channel 3 as its virtual channel. Meredith operates WFSB-TV on digital Channel 33 and uses Channel 3 as its virtual designation.
CBS joined in on the basis of its KYW-TV Philadelphia, on digital Channel 26 and virtual Channel 3.
Ion’s WPXN New York uses digital and virtual Channel 31.
WJLP, said the trio, “has commenced program-length commercial programming and network (ME-TV) programming identifying itself as ‘Channel 3’ and using virtual channel 3.10, which it can only use if it obtains a waiver that the Commission has never issued.”
The problem – it creates confusion with their own stations.
The virtual channels were a side-effect of the digital transition of 2009. A lot of long time VHF stations moved to new UHF homes but wanted to retain decades worth of promotion and goodwill associated with their longtime home on the dial. Hence came the right to claim a virtual channel designation that is protected by the FCC.
The FCC says it has some more work to do on this one and admits that WJLP Licensee PMCM TV has some arguments worthy of consideration, but for now, its temporary interim virtual channel designation is 33.
RBR-TVBR observation: PMCM’s other controversy?
It managed one of the most awesome city of license changes in history. It came to New Jersey all the way from Ely NV.
It was a result of a proceeding to get VHF television into the states of New Jersey and Delaware. The FCC laughed the proposal to move this station, and another making a similar cross-continent hop to Delaware, right out of the Media Bureau.
But after a number of years, a judge saw it differently and the FCC decided not to contest the decision, allowing the move from Ely to Middletown to take place.