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TWC plans confusing change in channel positions of local stations

By Alan Pergament

Get ready for some confusion that may cause the blood pressure of some TV viewers to spike and can't be blamed on Obamacare.

On Dec. 3 and Dec. 5, Time Warner Cable plans to change the high definition location of local Western New York stations that differ from their traditional spots on cable boxes.

The area's local general managers were sent letters in September telling them the changes were going to occur on Oct. 17, but a TWC spokesman said Tuesday afternoon that date is for the Rochester area and subscribers here will get a letter and a brochure in early November advising them of the new channel locations in two months.

That confusion aside, the delay until December will give TWC and the stations more time to explain the changes.

The moves won't impact channels up to 100, which means Channel 2 will remain on cable 2, Channel 4 will remain on cable Channel 4 and Channel 7 will remain on cable channel 7. They are all in HD on those lower stations now, though some subscribers may not realize that.

But here's the really confusing part: Channel 7 on the HD tier will be on cable channel 1200 instead of 707,  Channel 2 will be cable channel 1203 instead of 702 and Channel 4 will be on Channel 1209  instead of its current 704.

WUTV, the local Fox affiliate, will be on 1206, which is similar to being on Channel 706 as it is now. But WNYO, the MyNetwork affiliate will be on 1215 instead of 708. CW 23 will be on channel 1212 and PBS affiliate Channel 17 will be on Channel 1221. 

Time Warner is making the moves from the 700 tier to the 1200 tier to standardize the channels all the broadcast stations are on in all of its markets on HD tiers. In other words, all ABC affilliates carried by TWC will be on channel 1200, all NBC affiliates will be on channel 1203, all Fox affiliates will be on Channel 1206 and all CBS affiliates will be Channel 1209.

In addition, TWC plans to move sports channels from the 700 tier to the 300 and 400 tiers. The cable news channels are going to be in the 200 tier, with CNN on 201, Fox News on 202 and MSNBC on 203.

HBO, Showtime and the other pay-cable channels are moving to Channel 510 and beyond. It is part of TWC's plan to put  channels that run similar programming near each other.

Before being told the changes won't be made for two months, Channel 7 General Manager Mike Nurse wasn't very happy with the idea. 

"We are concerned with the drastic channel repositioning and the confusion it may cause amongst the viewing public," wrote Nurse in a text message. "We will, of course, promote the change via news and promotion but remain conerned with such a major change on the short term. Given that the majority of cable viewing is on the core broadcast stations -- the onus is on TWC to adequately inform customers and address any issues."

However, Nick Magnani, the general manager of the Fox and MyNetwork TV affiliates here, wasn't concerned that it will be a long-term issue.

"It will be confusing in the short term, but people will find popular shows like 'American Idol' and 'The Big Bang Theory,'" said Magnini. "I like the standardization. I think we live in a high-tech world and people will find us quickly. I don't think this will affect us at all."

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