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WNAC Shifts MyNet to Digital Channel

WNAC Providence is debuting MyNetworkTV on a new digital channel Oct. 1 after years of airing it late-night on the Fox affiliate. The new channel, dubbed MyRITV, will air MyNetworkTV (MNT) programming in pattern from 8 to 10 p.m.; WNAC had aired it from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. since the mini-network’s launch in 2006.

WNAC LLC owns WNAC and LIN manages the station. MyRITV will supplement the MNT prime with syndicated programs such as My Name is Earl, WNAC shows like The Rhode Show and, eventually, local sports and other homegrown programming.

“It doesn’t look like other subchannels,” says WPRI-WNAC President/General Manager Jay Howell. “It looks like a real channel.”

WNAC has distribution through Comcast, Cox and Verizon. Howell said there had been a similar plan afoot with the local WB affiliate, but that plan was dashed when the WB network expired in 2006.

A spokesperson from Twentieth Television, MNT’s distribution partner, said network executives are excited by what they call an “upgrade” for Providence viewers. The spokesperson said MNT is showing signs of a ratings rebound this fall through programs such as Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader.

Howell said the #52 DMA is underserved in terms of broadcast outlets. “The market only has five major stations, whereas markets our size usually have seven or eight,” he says. “We feel this market can certainly handle six.”

MyRITV appeals to advertisers who perhaps could not afford to be on the major stations, says Howell, and delivers a desirable young male audience through programs like WWE SmackDown.

LIN may consider shifting MNT program to a separate channel elsewhere in its group; it also manages KNVA Austin, which airs both CW and MNT programming.

“I think it’s beneficial to viewers,” says LIN Executive V.P. Scott Blumenthal. “It’s one example of how to take advantage of the technology that’s available now.”