By Alan Pergament
WGRZ-TV appears to be ready to add a third channel by January and Time Warner is adding Al Jazeera America in a couple of weeks and dropping SOAPnet by the end of the year.
Where did I get all of this news?
Would you believe from a Time Warner Cable legal announcement carried in Wednesday's edition of The Buffalo News?
Well down the lengthy legal notice, TWC noted that WGRZ DT3 will be added to the service on or about Jan.3, 2014.
The notice doesn't say what programming DT3 will carry. DT1 is Channel 2's regular channel and the station currently carries Antenna TV, which programs old TV series, on DT2.
WGRZ hasn't announced what it is going to do with the third channel or if it is going to continue carrying Antenna TV on its second channel. Before its second digital channel became Antenna TV, the channel had been used as a 24-hour weather channel and a sports channel so those two formats would be possibilities. Other possibilities include an entertainment or music channel. There also is a possibility that WGRZ will move whatever format it chooses to DT2 and either move Antenna TV to DT3 or drop it.
TWC also doesn't say what channel Al Jazeera America will be located when it is added to the system on or about Dec. 6. TWC made a national deal last month to carry Al Jazeera America, which is operated by a Middle East media company that purchased Al Gore's Current TV so it could distribute its channel in its place. TWC carried Current, but dropped it after the Al Jazeera deal was completed.
Al Jazeera America launched in August with a reported mission to carry lengthy, unbiased stories in America and internationally that other news companies don't do. In other words, it hopes to eventually compete with CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Its ratings have been extremely low, but making it available in 15 million TWC homes should help it get more attention.
Al Jazeera America has hired some national names to anchor and report that media junkies may recognize, including John Seigenthaler, Antonio Mora, Joie Chen, Ali Velshi and Sheila MacVicar.
TWC's legal notice Wednesday included several other announcements about current channels, including the dropping of SOAPnet on or about Dec. 31, the move of IFC to the digital basic/ digitial tier on or about Dec. 6 and the addition of Starz On Demand and Encore On Demand on Dec. 5.
The cable system also warns subscribers about the possibility of losing several channels after their contracts expire, including several Discovery Channels, several pay-sports channels and the New York Yankees YES network. The list also includes several channels owned by Viacom, which include TV Land, MTV, VH1, Nickelodeon.
However, it is a little early to worry about losing any of the channels. TWC notes it is usually able to reach new agreements after contracts expire and discontinuing carriage of any channel only occurs in "rare circumstances."
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