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Cable to drop two channels

Brookhaven’s Cable One subscribers will take their last look atthree low-digit network channels Wednesday before they are droppedfrom the lineup due to broadcast complications and contract issues,company officials said.

Cable One General Manager Bobby McCool said WBRZ-ABC andWDAM-NBC – channels 2 and 7, respectively – will not return to the2009 lineup because their stations in Baton Rouge, La., andHattiesburg are too far away to transmit a strong digital signal.Though the national digital transition doesn’t take effect untilFeb. 17, McCool said the company must have next year’s lineup inplace by Jan. 1.

Also, Jackson’s WUFX-My Network on channel 6 has not yet givenCable One permission to broadcast its programming in 2009, McCoolsaid. He said the channel could be added back later in the New Yearif an agreement is reached.

Cable One will still carry ABC and NBC affiliates – Jackson’sWAPT-ABC on channel 11 and WLBT-NBC on channel 13 – but there is noduplicate for WUFX-My Network. Cable One officials advised thatsimilar programming is shown on WRBJ-CW on channel 8.

Furthermore, the loss of WBRZ and WDAM means the end of localnews from anywhere but Jackson, save for one New Orleans-basedstation, WWL-CBS on channel 5.

While a weak analog signal will produce snowy or lined pictureson viewers’ TVs, McCool said a weak digital signal will produce nopicture at all.

“That’s why we have to make sure we have a strong signal 99.9percent of the time from these TV stations,” he said. “And we knowthat some of these stations will not be able to stay on the wholetime, and we don’t need to carry a distant station that’s only on50 percent of the time. It’s aggravating to us and our customers -they want to see a good picture all the time.”

McCool said the loss of the channels would not affect monthlyrates, as Cable One picks up the three off-air channels being axedat no charge. That trend, he said, is changing more and more asstations ask for cable companies to pay for their broadcasts.

McCool said Cable One would offset the loss of the threechannels by gradually installing new programming, most of whichwill be high definition. The company already has plans to addAnimal Planet HD on Jan. 19, and subsequent plans call for theaddition of a regional FOX Sports channel in HD.

Although all cable will go digital in February, Cable One’saddition of high-definition channels will not benefit those basiccable subscribers who have the normal channels 2-65 lineup.