Solutions coming for UPN
By Jim Kershner
Here’s update No. 4 regarding the availability of UPN television programs in the Inland Northwest (or lack of same):
A solution may already be in place, at least for viewers in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.
Equity Broadcasting, owner of the area’s new UPN station, was installing a 2,500-watt transmitter on a mountain above Post Falls on Friday. It will replace the previous, wimpy 100-watt transmitter that covered virtually none of the area.
Equity spokesman Doug Krile expected the new transmitter to be running over the weekend. Its signal should reach all of Coeur d’Alene and all or most of Spokane, as well as outlying areas as far away as Spirit Lake and Medical Lake.
Here’s how to find out if you’re getting this new station: Tune your TV to channel 47 (over the air, not cable) and point your rabbit ears or your antenna in the general direction of Post Falls. You should be able to pick up the station.
A few caveats: Even though this new transmitter is beefier than the old one, it is still a low-power translator, not a true full- power station. That means the signal may be spotty. Sometimes, low- power signals can even be blocked by walls in your house, for instance.
Also, this station is still not on cable. If you are on cable, you will have to switch your TV to its over-the-air mode. You will probably need an antenna or rabbit ears. (But even an antenna won’t guarantee you’ll receive the signal better.)
By the way, this new station has changed its call letters. The Post Falls translator is now called KQUP-LP (low-power), while its full-power sister station in Pullman has been changed to KQUP-24. Together, they will be billed as KQUP-24/47.
However, that Pullman station is still not on the air and won’t be until the first of the year. This makes no difference to Spokane/Coeur d’Alene over-the-air viewers, because that full-power Pullman signal won’t reach this far north. You’ll be picking it up on 47 from Post Falls anyway.
But it makes a huge difference to cable viewers, who constitute a majority of area TV viewers. Once the full-power station goes on line, all of the cable companies in the area will be required to carry it.
AT&T Broadband, the major cable company in Spokane, has reached a tentative agreement with Equity to carry the UPN signal on cable channel 29 even before the Pullman station hits the air.
But when? Steve Kipp, an AT&T Broadband spokesman, said they must comply with the FCC’s 30-day notification rule before changing the channel lineup. That 30-day waiting period won’t even start until an agreement is finalized.
Still, both parties are interested in doing it more quickly, if FCC regulations will allow it.
Krile said Equity’s Little Rock, Ark., headquarters has gotten 250 phone calls from confused and/or peeved Spokane area viewers. Most of them are fans of either “Enterprise” (whose new season premieres Wednesday) or “WWF Smackdown,” the most popular UPN shows along with “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.”
So, to recap:
• You might be able to pick up UPN over-the-air on channel 47 in Spokane and Coeur d’Alene.
• It is still not on cable anywhere in the region, although that situation might change rapidly.
For updates, call the Equity Broadcasting information line at (800) 457-5534.
Sunday, September 15, 2002