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Weather delays low-power channels; Fallon ratings remain strong

By Alan Pergament

Do you remember a few months ago when Lockport police officer Steven Ritchie said he planned to debut a low power TV station with as many as six channels as early as Feb.1 as long as the weather co-operated?

Well, I don't think I have to tell you that the weather didn't co-operate and that has postponed the debut of WBXZ-TV, Channel 56, by about a month.

The 51-year-old Ritchie was granted FCC approval to take over the license for WBXZ-TV, in August after purchasing it from a Syracuse owner of several low power stations for $25,000. Ritchie said the station has been around for about 20 years and has carried home shopping and music channels before.

Now he says the plan is to install the equipment needed to send the channels from a tower on top of the HSBC building in downtown Buffalo by next week.

"If everything goes well, we'll be on the air by the end of next week or the beginning of the following week," said Ritchie. In late December, Ritchie said he plans to retire from the police this year and he bought WBXZ to have something to do after his retirement.

His goal is to carry five or six standard definitions channels. One of the channels that he plans to carry on Channel 56 is Retro TV, which he said used to air locally on WNGS and a WGRZ digital channel and carries classic television programs. Retro TV will be the third classic TV channel here. joining WBBZ-TV programming and Antenna TV on one of Channel 2's digital channels.

In addition, Ritchie plans channels that carry home shopping, kids programs, country music, programs geared to men, and possibly a channel devoted to movies.

Ritchie said the channels have the capability of being seen on digital sets or with digital antennas in homes in most of Erie County and a large part of Niagara County.

Jimmy Fallon's second "Tonight Show" Tuesday with Jerry Seinfeld as guest had a healthy 6.4 rating on Channel 2. It was about a point lower than Monday's premiere but that is still a very strong rating for a show that began at midnight. It was two points higher locally than "Late Show with David Letterman," which had the advantage of starting 30 minutes earlier on Channel 4. And the rating for Fallon's show was four times higher than the rating for Jimmy Kimmel's late-night ABC show, which airs on Channel 7.

Inquiring minds want to know: Where is Channel 2 sports director Adam Benigni? He works on Channel 2’s "Daybreak" during the Olympics, which means Jonah Javad and Stu Boyar have had plenty of weeknight anchor duties.

Javad has grown on me a little bit, perhaps because he doesn't strain to be clever as much as he used to do. However, he probably startled many hockey fanatics Wednesday when he declared Sweden to be the dark horse in the Olympic men’s hockey tournament.

The Swedes were the pre-Olympic co-favorite of many experts, along with Canada. And they were the top seed going into Wednesday's quarterfinals. I don't think you can be a dark horse when you are considered a favorite unless you are made one by someone in the dark. I think Javad probably meant that Sweden wasn't getting as much attention on sports talk shows as other countries, but that is very different from being a dark horse.

Channel 4 sports producer Jay Harris is leaving the station soon to become a multi-media producer for the Buffalo Bills.  A large part of his duties will be as the producer of John Murphy's nightly radio show on WGR. Harris is expected to start in two weeks. That will leave Channel 4 with only sports director Steve Vesey and Lauren Brill in the sports department until Harris is replaced. Harris wasn't on-camera but he was considered to be very valuable in the department.

Finally, ESPN ran a graphic Wednesday that gave the odds that Syracuse University's No. 1 men's basketball team would win each of the remaining games on its regular season schedule and finish undefeated. It said SU had a 99 percent chance of defeating Boston College Wednesday night in the Carrier Dome. The odds are that anyone who has watched Syracuse look very ordinary in pulling off some miraculous victories in the last few weeks probably should have known how silly that graphic was. BC didn't get the memo, upsetting Syracuse, 62-59, in overtime.

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