Local News: WKAG-TV Rebuts Charter Claims After Drop

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A low-power TV station in Kentucky claims its signal strength has improved since installing a new transmitter and that Charter Communications shouldn't have dropped it from the channel lineup in Clarksville, Tenn., for that reason.

Charter dropped WKAG-TV (Channel 3) of Hopkinsville, Ky., in Clarksville, Tenn., last month. According to the station and a story in a local paper, The Leaf-Chronicle, Charter had been paying the cost of getting the station feed via a fiber-optic line for more than a decade, but dropped that arrangement and then dropped the station, which had been carried under must-carry rules.

"The signal strength tests Charter conducted were consistent with FCC rules and proper engineering practices and WKAG's signal failed to meet the minimum signal standards for carriage on our Clarksville channel line-up," Charter spokeswoman Anita Lamont said Friday, after WKAG challenged that claim.

WKAG video rebuttal

WKAG put out a detailed statement on its Web site about signal-strength testing requirements under Federal Communications Commission rules for Class A low-power TV stations and said its new solid-state transmitter greatly improved its broadcast.

The Web site also posted a 5-minute video statement rebutting Charter. The station did its own test from a building rooftop in Clarksville, still well lower than Charter's test and farther away from the transmitter than Charter's headend. The signal was "snowy and grainy" but good enough to demonstrate that Charter could pick it up adequately from the proper height on Charter's headend tower, according to the station.

"WKAG has qualified for cable carriage in Clarksville since the Cable Television Act of 1992, and continues to do so," the station said.

Essentially, WKAG said Charter did not attempt to receive the station's signals from a height of 130-150 feet, the estimated height at which Charter's headend towers pick up full-power TV station signals. WKAG said Charter documented attempting to pick up the signal "from the back of a bucket truck," at an estimated height of 30-40 feet.

The station is still carried on CDE Lightband in Clarksville, a broadband system operated by the local electric utility that competes with Charter.