Monday, October 26, 2009

TV You May Not See


LIN TV launched new programming on an existing station with familiar call letters, but it may not be free TV in Austin, even though they have dubbed themselves “My Austin TV”.

October 21, 2009 LIN TV, owner of KXAN TV (NBC) and operator of KNVA (CW) began airing programming from MyNetworkTV on its full-power station in the Hill Country, now called KBVO TV. MyNetworkTV had aired on KNVA at 10 p.m. after CW programming.

Owned by Fox, MyNetworkTV had been trying to make it as a network airing reruns, but on September 28th, it ceased to be a network. It is now a programming service with shows like “The Unit”, “Law and Order-Criminal Intent”, “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader, and movies.

LIN also intends to augment and enhance the new KBVO with sports. “MyAustinTV will air San Antonio Spurs NBA basketball games, Houston Texans NFL pre-season games, and Big 12 college basketball games, including The University of Texas Longhorn basketball games. The station will also air other UT sports programming, including Longhorn Sports Center Weekly, with the potential to air live UT sports such as baseball, women’s basketball, softball and more.,” according to the news release. It will also rebroadcast KXAN TV’s 10 p.m. newscast at midnight.

“MyAustinTV is dedicated to providing local and regional sports and entertainment programming to Central Texas,” said Eric Lassberg, President and General Manager, KXAN-TV (NBC), KNVA-TV (CW) and KBVO-TV (MNT). “We especially want to thank the University of Texas, the San Antonio Spurs and our other partners in the community for helping us provide viewers with their favorite local content.”

The problem is this: Unless you live in the KBVO Channel 14 digital footprint, you cannot see it on free TV. I live in Southwest Austin, and none of my TVs equipped with a DTV convert boxes can detect the channel. The digital transmitter is located near Llano. It is available on the Time Warner HD tier and Direct TV (Satellite). Grande plans to programming KBVO on two tiers. Plans are in the works for AT&T U-Verse and Suddenlink.

A little background: In 1983 KBVO were the original call letters of what is now KEYE TV (CBS). KBVO was independent then. When the station became the CBS affiliate in 1995, the KBVO call letters became available. LIN TV signed-on the full-power Hill Country station KXAM TV licensed to Llano in 1991. It simulcast KXAN programming. September 1, 2009 KXAM became KBVO TV. Got all of that?

So far, KXAN and LIN are mum about any plans for KXAN’s digital subchannels. Part of the problem has always been the limitations of the KXAN physical plant on West MLK Jr.

This KXAM/KBVO shift might seem a little baffling. KXAM TV was the brainchild of LIN TV CEO Gary Chapman to increase the reach of KXAN into the Hill Country. For years, the Hill Country belonged to KTBC TV (Fox) because its VHF frequency boomed into basic antennas in western counties of the market. Adding KXAM with a news bureau equipped with a live truck and a live link in Round Mountain in Blanco County gave KXAN a presence. Nielsen called it KXAN +. Sure enough, it helped KXAN become #1 in the late 1990s.

So why change?

“Years ago, when Gary Chapman launched KXAM, 60% of households in that area, “Hill Country”, received our signal over-the-air. Today, less than 15% are now getting KXAN over the air, since as you know most people have moved to cable or satellite,” says a LIN TV spokesperson. “Our viewers are better served by offering a new and more vibrant product with the MyNetworkTV programming.”

Assuming those audience view trends are correct, comparing 1991 to 2009, the switch makes total sense. LIN TV is smart to make its existing full-power TV station in something else, unique from KXAN and KNVA. It then becomes a station that must be carried on cable systems in the community. It should not subtract from KXAN or KNVA’s audience, and it should create what I keep calling an additional revenue stream.

I just wish I could see it without paying more for it. I’m curious. Can you pick up KBVO where you live?

Click “comments” and let me know, yes or no, and tell me what part of town you’re in.

© Jim McNabb, 2009


Anonymous said...

According to the FCC's web site, KBVO-CA is also being broadcast as a low power analog station on channel 51 from KXAN's tower in West Lake Hills... which I can receive(fuzzy) from Sunset Valley. The FCC also indicates that there has been a construction permit filed to turn KBVO-CA into a "digital class A television station". The signal coverage area shows only Travis County receiving this digital signal... so it looks to be low power, but does cover Austin... so maybe this will be the way to see it over the air in Austin at some point. KXAM used to be listed on the FCC's site up until recently, and I do recall seeing a filed construction permit that showed KXAM's signal coverage area expanding eastward to I-35. I was thinking that when that happened, I might be able to get it. So maybe that signal modification hasn't happened yet as I still cannot receive channel 14 yet(and that's with a large outdoor antenna). The only FCC record I can find on KBVO only points to the low power channel 51 for now. Sure would be nice if KBVO could continue to simulcast KXAN for the Hill Country, and then both stations add subchannels(for My Austin TV, and whatever else)...but it's all about money. Here's the link to the FCC's record for KBVO. Scroll through the record to "Service Contour Map" to see coverage. There are two records listed for KBVO... so two maps to see.

NewsMcNabb said...

Editor's Note: Yes, I saw that reference regarding Channel 51. I'm in Travis Country in West Southwest Austin. Nothing. I don't think it's being use.
I've asked about the digital plans, but was only told that they were not ready to announce anything. Hmmmm.
I see no reason why KBVO can't have subchannels. It's a stand-alone, full-power station.
I looked at the FCC's coverage maps for KXAM today. It seems to indicated that I should see their signal with ease. Nada.
I got the news release about KBVO on October 21. They need to crank it up.
I waited to write while a LIN TV spokesperson gather what information she could for me.

Anonymous said...

I'm watching channel 51 analog right now(from Sunset Valley) and it comes in ok. It appears they are simulcasting KNVA at the moment. As far as the digital 14 from Llano... I have twisted and turned my outdoor antenna every which way in clear, cloudy weather, and nothing. I wonder whether or not they have fully finished with their transmitter upgrades out at Llano. I could get their old analog signal. I get KCWX 2.1 and 2.2 fine from Fredericksburg... and KWTX, KXXV blink in and out from Waco. Seems like I should get something from the Llano direction. Speaking of KXXV, they have two subchannels in addition to the main KXXV channel. 25.2 is Telemundo, and 25.3 is their own in-house weather channel. Gosh, 3 channels AND one is a weather channel in WACO... and in Austin- ZIP on both. Maybe someday...

Anonymous said...


About LIN TV's silence on digital channels, remember that the company has little cash on hand. Just last month, LIN provided notice that it may sell over $100 million in securities to get its hands on money, which could be used to cover operational costs and/or capital expenditures and expansion.

Anonymous said...

Money woes -- real or perceived -- haven't stopped LIN from spending. They just bought Red McCombs Media. In Providence, they launched MyRITV on a digital subchannel. And, here in Austin, they debuted KBVO (including the acquisition of many new sports and syndicated offerings) and have made several high-profile hires in front of the cameras and behind the scenes. They are, in this market, by far the most aggressive broadcaster in town and have been focusing on things that will bring in much more revenue than a digital subchannel. There are still lots of good offerings out there (ThisTV, RTN, Universal Sports, LATV and .2, if it ever launches) so there's not really a rush. KTBC is also without any subchannels. In fact most, if not all, Fox O&Os lack subchannels.

Anonymous said...

Nothing would suit me more than to see LIN bankrupt. Good riddance to a bunch of arrogant pigs.

PS - 14 isn't on DirecTV, only OTA

Anonymous said...

To the last anonymous,

Why so much hate for LIN TV?

To the anonymous before that:

If LIN hasn't stopped spending, try explaning why some KXAN employees were cut from the payroll to reduce spending and why employees have to take unpaid furloughs.

NewsMcNabb said...

Editor's Note: Let the record know this: I don't hate LIN TV. LIN TV, specifically KXAN TV were very good to me through most of my 16-year career there. I have many, many long-time friends working there.

It is interesting that management there will talk to me on the record any more. I've resorted to seeking information through the corporative office. They have been helpful.

Don't include me in any hatred of LIN. Even though management and marketing don't respond to me, I still like them all personally.

I invested 16 years there. I want them to succeed.

I'm sorry if sometimes I write posts with true reports. Frankly, I think that they would be better served if they let down their hair a little, but I have nothing but appreciation for my time with LIN TV, and I have great affection for folks there, including those who don't write back.


Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

WHAT CHANNEL WILL KBVO BE ON? channel 7 on 2, 24 on 3, 18 on 9, 42 on 5, 54 on 12, 62 on 13, 14 on ?

NewsMcNabb said...

Editor's Note: Here's what the LIN TV news release said about where to find KBVO:

Effective October 21st KBVO-TV, MyAustinTV will be carried on Time Warner Cable, channel 1525 on the HD tier and DirecTV on channel 51. KBVO will also launch soon on Grande Communications (channel 18 and 318), Suddenlink and AT&T Uverse. KBVO is available on channel 14 using an over-the-air digital antenna.

Anonymous said...

I live out here in NW Austin near 2222 and 620 and I can not get KBVO at all.

Anonymous said...

Will Time Warner Cable have KBVO on a lower tier like Grande on channel 18.

Anonymous said...

I can confirm that DirecTV has KBVO on channel 51 (not 14). I live in Llano and I can easily get all the full power Austin stations with a strong outdoor antenna (a 91XG) and preamp. I suppose terrain may play a part in why people closer to Austin can't pick up 14.1 over the air in return (Llano being a few hundred feet higher than Austin).

Really, to increase coverage I think they should show KXAN programming on 14.2 and show KBVO programming on 36.2, unless they have future plans for those subchannels (please, NOT more Spanish).