Questions and answers on WALB ABC affiliate | News
LEE COUNTY, GA – Several viewers have asked questions about the WALB ABC affiliate and want to know why WALB made the move to ABC in addition to the NBC affiliate.
The WALB ABC Albany Designated Market Area will serve Lee County.
The General Manager of WALB News 10, Jim Wilcox has answered a few questions about the WALB ABC affiliate that will begin Wednesday, April 27.
1. Why WALB for ABC in Albany?
A few things made this new ABC station possible, the technology, the opportunity, our parent company, Raycom Media, and the ABC network of course.
The Albany market is what is called a “short market”, which means we are missing one of the top 4 network affiliates.
It is ideal for the local viewers in each major city, to have a local affiliate station, from each network, not only for quality reception, but for local news, sports, and weather coverage.
As we know from our history of major floods, and deadly tornados in South Georgia, this has been especially important in emergency situations.
Surrounding markets which have all 4 network stations are: Macon, Columbus, and Tallahassee.
The previous ABC provider for Albany, was WTVM from Columbus, Ga. WTVM and WALB, are owned by the same company, Raycom Media.
Raycom saw the opportunity to better serve South Georgia. The major factor in the ABC decision to offer the digital affiliation to WALB, was the heavy commitment to local news, provided by WALB.
Networks realize that the loyal local news audience drives viewership for the network programs that follow.
2. Before the mandated switch to digital broadcasting in 2009, viewers who wanted to watch ABC programming were forced to watch out of market stations such as WTVM out of Columbus, WTXL from Tallahassee, and others, whether it be via antenna, cable, or satellite. What should viewers expect from the new ABC channel (10.2) as far as the coverage area is concerned?
Anyone who can see the WALB NBC signal, over the air, will be able to see the WALB ABC signal. The coverage will be identical, and there will be positive results in several other areas:
First it will expand the public service to local residents, with additional news sports, & weather. Now, viewers are watching an ABC from another city, which does not interrupt or run crawls in cases of a specific South Georgia emergency: weather, a major traffic accident, etc.
Our weather tracking / forecasting equipment is very capable of giving viewers very accurate and up to date warnings, of when severe weather will arrive at their location, down to the minute.
After our launch, the local ABC, including all local syndicated programming, can be interrupted, offering this, sometimes life saving information.
The new ABC will also feature a new and exclusive 7:00 pm newscast, not available at that hour before.
It will be live, and anchored by our same award winning team, Dawn Hobby and Ben Roberts.
ABC programming reception will be far better than ever possible before. About 10% of our area’s homes only receive TV stations, over the air. Most of these are elderly or lower income, and depend heavily on this free service.
Our ABC serves the Albany DMA market. The 17 county DMA area consists of: Dougherty, Lee, Worth, Baker, Terrell, Tift, Turner, Crisp, Calhoun, Mitchell, Colquitt, Cook, Berrien, Atkinson, Coffee, Irwin, and Ben Hill.
We will broadcast the new ABC station from the same tower as WALB, in Doerun, Ga. Therefore our new multicast ABC may be able to be picked up in our significantly viewed counties: Stewart, Webster, Sumter, Dooly, Wilcox, Dodge, Pulaski, Telfair, Wheeler, Jeff Davis, Montgomery, Toombs, Appling, Bacon, Ware, Clinch, Lanier, Echols, Lowndes, Brooks, Thomas, Grady, Decatur, Seminole, Miller, Early, Clay, Randolph, and Quitman.
3. For its first 25 years (circa 1954-1979) on the air, WALB aired select ABC shows, as a secondary affiliate. What impact will the new ABC channel in terms of programming choices?
Using the new digital technology, we will be able to offer viewers in South Georgia, the full and complete lineups of both networks.
We will not have to choose one program or the other. Both network’s programs will be available, and the viewers get to make the choice.
WALB and ABC have a history in Albany already, in the 50’s, during the growth and development of TV, there were only two networks, NBC, the first, and then CBS.
Years later, the ABC network came along, but the networks did not have a full slate of primetime programs for each day of the week and from 8-11pm.
Many stations such as WALB, were able to hold a dual affiliation, and could pick and choose the best from both NBC and ABC. Until the late 1970’s WALB held this dual-affiliation status, with NBC and ABC.
Once NBC had an adequate number of hours of programming, it was not possible to continue carrying ABC, with only analog technology available at the time.
The new ABC will greatly improve programming choices for area viewers. As far as ABC programs, when we launch April 27th, we will carry their complete network schedule without exception.
Many syndicated programs, already airing on WALB, will be offered at different times on the ABC channel, such as: The Doctors at 9am, Entertainment Tonight at 5pm, Inside Edition at 5:30pm.
We will add a new live half-hour newscast at 7pm, and a new program, Access Hollywood at 7:30pm.
Additional church programs will be available Sunday mornings, and new children’s programs on Saturday mornings.
4. What impact will ABC have on advertising in the Albany DMA, and beyond?
First it will expand the local advertising choices. ABC is a major network, with popular programs, and loyal viewers. For the first time, businesses can take advantage of this, placing ads in prime ABC entertainment and sports program positions.
Our goal for the new ABC is to become the #2 TV station in the Albany market, both in audience and advertising revenue.
The advertising rates on the ABC will be less expensive than WALB, due to the much higher number of viewers on WALB.
Advertising rates are based on the number of thousands, reached in each program.
The strongest factor in the growth of the new ABC, will be the heavy promotion on WALB-NBC.
It will definitely grow the DMA, (designated market area) market. Each county falls into only one city’s DMA, Nielsen assigns a county to one DMA over another, based on which city’s TV stations, receives more than 50% of total TV viewing.
In the past, Albany had only 2 TV stations WALB-NBC, and WFXL-FOX. WALB is the #1 viewed station in 40 counties, but with only 2 stations from Albany, against 4 from Columbus, Macon, or Tallahassee, those cities deliver more than 50% of total viewing and win the county for their DMA.
A couple of years ago, WCTV began broadcasting a local CBS station from Moultrie, WSWG-CBS. Now as we add a local ABC in April, we will for the first time have 4 against 4, in this Nielsen ratings war, and the Albany market will win several new counties to the DMA market.
This market growth issue is significant, because many national companies buy advertising in markets based on their size. Also chain stores, fast food restaurants etc, combine co-op dollars from locations in each market’s DMA counties. The larger the DMA, the larger the pool of advertising dollars to place on local TV stations.
Albany, Ga. is currently #147 market size, in the country, and includes 17 counties around Albany. Albany could easily move up to a top 100 DMA, with 25 or more counties.
5. Will the new ABC channel air in the Valdosta and Thomasville areas?
Yes, most counties in South Georgia, will be able to pick up our new ABC, since we will be broadcasting from the same tower in Doerun, Ga. (near Moultrie).
Many in those counties do pick us up over the air, since we are not on satellite there. The new ABC will not be carried on DISH and Direct TV, in Lowndes and Thomas County.
These two counties fall into the Tallahassee market or DMA. As I said earlier, I believe with the addition of a local ABC, many new counties will be added to the Albany DMA, from adjacent DMA’s.
6. Is there anything else you would like to talk about, that hasn't been discussed so far?
We do not know the exact channel number our ABC on DISH and Direct TV, but here is the channel location we received from Mediacom Cable.
Effective 5:00 am, April 27, 2011, Mediacom Cable will add WALB-ABC on channel 9 and WALB -ABC HD on channel 809 in the Albany area; in the Pearson communities we will add WALB-ABC on channel 7 and WALB-ABC HD on channel 807; in the Fitzgerald communities, we will add WALB-ABC on channel 10 and WALB-ABC HD on channel 810; in the Camilla communities, we will add WALB-ABC on channel 2 and WALB-ABC HD on channel 802 and in the Moultrie communities.
7. Do you have any final comments?
We are very excited to bring this new ABC channel to South Georgia. 2011 marks 57 years of public service by WALB.
This new ABC chapter, follows a proud heritage of not only technical innovations, but quality local programming such as “The Captain Mercury Show” , “Circus Parade”, “The Lazy A Ranch”, “Town and Country” and of course leading the way, WALB News 10.
WALB’s well known personalities over the years, became more like trusted family members, such as; Gill Patrick, Ducky Wall, Clem Clown, and Grady Shadburn.
This tradition continues today with Ruthie Garner, Dawn Hobby, Ben Roberts, Jim Wallace, Karla Heath-Sands, Yolanda Amadeo, and Chris Zelman.
I’m sure we will look back on this addition of a local ABC affiliate, as one of the biggest modern milestones in our station’s history.