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WJLA Says It Is Taking Care OF DTV Business

WJLA Washington continues to have some pockets of problems with DTV reception, but the calls have tapered off and some are being addressed via the FCC's double-scanning solution.

That is according to Jerald Fritz, Allbritton's senior vice president, who said, "We have a few isolated things... We're taking care of them one at a time and we think the problem is dissipated." And if problems persist, he said, the station can still look to the FCC for some help.

WJLA had been on a UHF temporary digital channel but moved to a VHF channel. There have been some issues with V's in urban areas given the differences in signal propagation--V's generally better in rolling terrain, U's better at penetrating objects.

"We are have a of people double-scan [unplug the converter box or TV And rescan] and then there are people who didn't realize they had to get a VHF antenna." Fritz says that has appeared to clear up "a lot of things."

He said it also helps that 90% of the viewers are cable or other multichannel video providers, but said that the station is taking care of its problems one by one.

He also said WJLA owner Allbritton has sent out trucks to test signal strength. "If there is a signal strength problem, we will ask the FCC to do something, but I'm not sure what."

VHF's in other markets with signal strength issues have successfully negotiated deals with other stations to boost their power, deals the FCC has approved in Philadelphia, Chicago, and elsewhere.

According to an FCC spokesman, those deals can include other stations agreeing to accept the increased interference from a power boost or boosting their own power to match.

Both WJLA and WUSA Washington, which also went from a U to a V, had been the subject of a Washington Post article about reception problems.

"We're sort of disappointed that the Post made it seem like this huge, widespread problem in the Washington area, which it is not," said Fritz. He pointed out that they got something under 1,000 calls from a market of 2.3 million, saying "that is not that much."

The FCC has long said there would be a “mop-up” effort, and despite the power problems with VHF’s and the antenna problems and box-scanning issues, it continues to see the transition as an overall success with some mess still to clean up.

An FCC spokesman says the FCC has checked in with the D.C. stations, as it has with stations around the country, “and at the moment no special attention seems to be needed,”  he said.