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New television station planned

June 26, 1979

FCC OK sought

By Deborah McBride
The Spokesman-Review

Spokane’s first UHF television station – Channel 22 – is on the drawing boards.

“Spokane is about the 75th-largest television market in the country. That’s plenty large enough for an independent television station,” Eugene D. Adelstein, one of the owners of the new station, said Monday from Tucson, Ariz., in a telephone interview.

If approved by the Federal Communications Commission, Channel 22 would offer Spokane viewers “an alternative” to the television programming made available now from the three affiliated channels and the public television station here, Adelstein said.

An independent station is “kind of a cross between a commercial station and public television. We’re not affiliated with a network but we can buy syndicated programs,” Adelstein explained.

“Independent stations’ strength is in counter-programming,” he explained. “We offer entertainment when the network stations are showing news. We show news when they’re offering entertainment. On the weekends, when they’re concentrating on sports, we show movies.”

For example, at the Tucson independent station where Adelstein is an owner-manager, programming includes “The Merv Griffin Show” and cartoons in the afternoon; older, “classic” movies during the prime time evening hours; news at 10 p.m., instead of 11 p.m. when the network affiliates air it; “Make Me Laugh,” a show featuring new comedians at 11 p.m. daily; and a late movie, Adelstein said.

Independent stations also buy and air syndicated television serials like “The Six Million Dollar Man,” “Bionic Woman” and “Sanford and Son,” he said.

Channel 22 also would emphasize local sports, public affairs and public service and news, he said.

Unlike cable television, UHF stations can be picked up on all television sets built after 1964, when federal law required that capability. Some sets built earlier than 1964 also can pick up UHF, Adelstein said.

Channel 22 would have a viewing range of 60 to 70 miles of Spokane, he said.

“We also hope to be in most of the local cable systems (in rural areas) around Spokane,” he said.

Adelstein and his partner, Edward B. Berger, also of Tucson, have filed an application with the FCC for permission to build a transmitter – most likely about four miles southeast of Spokane on Krell Hill – and an office and studio in Spokane.

About 25 employees would be hired initially to staff the new station, he said.

A copy of the FCC application is available for public inspection in the Spokane Area Development Council Inc. office at W1020 Riverside.

The FCC has set aside two UHF frequencies for the Spokane area, David Walsh, a research director for the Spokane Area Development Council, said.

“This is the kind of business we want in Spokane. We’re encouraging them to come here,” Walsh said.

Adelstein said negations for a transmitter site will be completed within the next two months, and construction on an office and studio could begin as soon as the FCC approves the project.

He and his partners also have applied for permits to set up an independent UHF station in Albuquerque, N.M., Adelstein said. That effort has taken about a year already, he said.

Tuesday, June 26, 1979

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