John Lawson, executive VP for Ion Media Networks, the nation’s largest TV station group, sat down for an interview recently with Broadcasting & Cable. Lawson says that Ion has seen a significant jump in coverage for their UHF stations. An excerpt of the interview…
We have been hearing about a lot of problems with VHF stations in large markets. Your group is virtually all UHFs. How has the transition affected you?
If you look at the FCC coverage predictions, we are getting a big increase in coverage. All of our 59 owned-and-operated stations are U’s except one in Martinsburg, W.Va.
So is the DTV transition going to wind up being the revenge of the U’s?
It is the revenge of the U’s, which is kind of ironic. It has been a terrific upside for us.
Any specific markets you can point to with particularly big gains?
Yes, Washington, D.C. We picked up 2.4 million viewers to a total of 6.99 million in the District, Maryland and Virginia. We moved from our analog station, which was in Manassas, Va., on a relatively low tower, to a tower in northwest D.C. We quadrupled our power and moved to a central location at a much higher elevation. With that, we are boosting our signal reach by more than 53%.