Channel swap to boost Chicago DTV reception


Chicago has been ground zero for reception problems since the DTV transition. Now ABC O&O WLS-TV is moving toward a channel change that should restore coverage to many lost viewers.

The FCC has issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which would have WLS move from its current digital Channel 7 (which had been its pre-transition analog channel as well) to Channel 44. The move is possible because the FCC has granted a change for WWAZ-TV Fond du Lac, WI, which has been off the air due to being unable to construct its digital facility on Channel 44. It will instead build on Channel 5 and has proposed to add two digital translator to restore service to many of the homes who will not be covered as a result of its effort to move its transmitter closer to Milwaukee.

WLS has told the Commission that it will be able to increase its service population by 178,771 people by substituting Channel 44 for its current Channel 7.

The WLS proposal is MM Docket No. 09-146. Comments will be due 15 days after publication in the Federal Register and reply comments another 10 days later. So, some folks in the Chicago market will still have to wait a while to get ABC programming restored.