The following is excerpted from the FCC filing for WKNA-TV's original construction permit.
The applicant's long range plans are to eventually program WKNA-TV eighteen or nineteen hours daily, or as long as the available audience justifies telecasting. Initially, because the applicant will be operating in a market without receivers capable of receiving UHF television broadcasts, applicant may program only two or three hours daily on a Monday thru Sunday schedule, although test patterns will be telecast several hours more daily during the morning and afternoon in order to permit the installation of UHF receivers. As more and more UHF receivers are installed in the Charleston market, applicant will increase the hours of programming daily.
Applicant, having had years of experience with both WJLS-FM, Beckley, West Virginia and WKNA-FM, Charleston, is well aware that success in UHF television broadcasting may well be dependent wholly upon the programs offered, especially in a market already with VHF television available form outside and with the probable operation of a local VHF station. Thus, one of the factors that will be considered in programming WKNA-TV will be the offering to the potential audience of programs that will not be available on VHF.
While the applicant is requesting the maximum permissible effective radiated power and anticipates that in time the service area of the UHF station requested may extend beyond the Charleston metropolitan area, the applicant recognizes the possibility of the inability of equipment manufacturers to immediately deliver equipment capable of attaining those powers. Consequently, the applicant expects the initial potential audience of the UHF station to be in the immediate vicinity of Charleston.
Taking these two factors into consideration, applicant during the first months or until more extensive UHF audience is available plans to concentrate its efforts to telecasting (1) program types not available on other television channels in the area and (2) programs especially designed for the Charleston metropolitan audience. As equipment becomes available to increase the proposed television station to its full authorized output, permitting an expansion of its service area, the urban nature of the programming will be de-emphasized in an effort to provide a well balanced program structure for the entire area that will be served in the future.
Applicant plans to purchase full remote equipment in order to bring to the pioneer UHF audience local sports and other local events, such as full performances of the Charleston Symphony Orchestra, local high school and college football and basketball games, the Charleston Players and similar attractions. The applicant fully realizes that once UHF set circulation has reached sizable proportions that the competitive nature of free television to the box office of the various locally supported civic events possibly will prevent such broadcasts, but the applicant has been assured by the various organizations concerned of their cooperation during the UHF audience building phase. Once a UHF audience is built, applicant will continue to cooperate with the various civic, fraternal and educational groups and will both offer free programs time and technical advice and assistance in the building and presenting of programs to advance the various phases of their individual endeavors.
In addition to the remote equipment that applicant will utilize, applicant intends to employ a special events cameraman in order to present special civic events not occurring during the initial broadcast hours. Applicant also intends to present weekly or semi-weekly local newsreels. While the applicant will operate the hours required by the rules, applicant does not intend to initially restrict its operation to the minimum permitted but in addition will broadcast during such hours to permit the full telecasting of the various special programs outlined above that fall within those hours during which an audience may be anticipated.
Applicant does not intend to restrict its live telecasting to remote presentations, but intends to construct its studios in such a manner as initially to permit the utilization of the remote equipment for live studio presentations. As the UHF audience is built, applicant will add live studio camera chains and associated equipment in order to enjoy greater flexibility in the scheduling of local live and local remote programs.
Applicant will have complete film and slide equipment to permit the televising of programs of that nature.
Applicant has had conversations with the various networks concerning a possible affiliation, but has received no assurances of an affiliation because of the UHF nature of the proposed station. Applicant believes that once UHF set circulation is guaranteed an affiliation may be possible.
As stated, the applicant initially plans to program only a few hours daily until UHF set circulation is built, however in order to prepare for the consideration of the Commission a proposed typical week of program and to analyze the proposed week, the applicant has assumed possibly following the first year of pioneering the proposed station will be operating twelve hours daily, or from noon until midnight, on a seven day week. Applicant has further assumed that the proposed station will be affiliated with the American Broadcasting Company as is the applicant's standard broadcast station, WKNA.
Applicant will make available at no charge time for the discussion of all public issues of general interest, and will lend its technical advice and assistance in the presentation of such programs. Furthermore, applicant will endeavor to present programs designed to stimulate such discussions. An example of the type of programs that will be telecast is one presented by the applicant's standard station, WKNA. This program, known as The Charleston Youth Forum, consists of a round-table discussion among high school students from the various high schools in the Charleston metropolitan area. All sides of the question under discussion are explored during the broadcast which is quite suitable for simultaneous televising. The program was presented during the school year form 8:00-8:30 PM each Tuesday night.
In any case, the applicant in choosing participants on such discussion programs will make its selection so as to insure all points of view are presented. Subjects selected for discussion will be of a general nature and those obviously of interest only to a small minority usually will be avoided.
The following is taken from the FCC filing (apparently in 1956, in response to the FCC's first attempt to cancel unbuilt or dark UHF construction permits) requesting an extension of the CP for the dark WKNA-TV.
Joe L. Smith, Jr. President and General Manager of Joe L. Smith, Jr., Incorporated, permittees of WKNA-TV, Channel 49, Charleston, West Virginia, states as follows:
(1) The permittee corporation has the authorization of the Commission (BPCT-591, as modified) for television broadcast station WKNA-TV, Charleston, West Virginia.
(2) The television broadcast station was erected and placed into operation October 12, 1953. Because of financial difficulties, it was deemed appropriate to cease operations on February 12, 1953.
(3) While the permittee corporation was the first television station in the Charleston, West Virginia, metropolitan market, and while its initial efforts were quite successful, with the advent of VHF competition in the market, it was found impossible to interest a sufficient number of commercial sponsors to permit the continued operation of the station. In fact, the permittee corporation suffered losses during the last months of the operation of WKNA-TV in the neighborhood of $15,000 per month.
(4) The station in February of 1955 was closed and placed in a stand-by condition. Actually, none of the equipment, with the exception of a camera chain, used in the operation of the station during the year and one half that it operated, has been disposed of.
(5) The station presently is in condition to resume telecasting on a few days notice if economic conditions would warrant.
(6) The permittee corporation has made overtures to Mr. Robert R. Thomas, Jr., licensee of WOAY-TV, Oak Hill, West Virginia, to operate as a satellite of that station. At the present time, numerous details concerning such an operation have not been concluded.
(7) As a satellite of WOAY-TV, WKNA-TV can be programmed at a minimum expense.
(8) Permittee corporation feels that the Federal Communications Commission should extend the construction permit for WKNA-TV, until such time as the entire UHF-VHF question has been reconciled, for:
(a) The station has been constructed and has operated.
(b) The station, and permittee corporation, is making an effort to again provide a UHF service to Charleston by arranging for a satellite operation.
(c) The vacating of the UHF CP for Channel 49 at Charleston, West Virginia, will not make available to other interested parties a frequency. Other UHF frequencies are allocated to the market.
(d) The cancellation of the UHF CP to Joe. L. Smith, Jr., Incorporated, for the operation of WKNA-TV, Channel 49, at Charleston, West Virginia, will be detrimental to the financial interests of the permittee corporation, which already have been seriously threatened by the attempted operation of a UHF television station in a "protected market".
Construction of WKNA-TV was authorized by Commission action of March 4, 1953, and on October 12, 1953, regular programming was started, under a special temporary authorization, the station having been completed in accordance with the permit except for the use of a different antenna and a one kilowatt, rather than a ten kilowatt, transmitter. It was in operation from October 12, 1953, until February 12, 1955 except for a loss of a few hours of programming time on February 4, 1954 because of damage by fire.
WKNA-TV began operation as an affiliate of the American Broadcasting Company and experienced initially some acceptance by network advertisers, although programs of the network had to be presented by kinescope for almost a year before the station was inter-connected. Then WSAZ-TV (VHF), Huntington, was moved closer to Charleston and WCHS-TV (VHF) began operation in Charleston. The network cancelled orders already placed on WKNA-TV on a live basis and placed them on WCHS-TV or WSAZ-TV on a delayed kinescope basis. While WKNA-TV had secured about the eighth highest conversion rate in the country, poorly built UHF converters and receivers began breaking down, bad weather began knocking (?) UHF antennas out of line and television servicemen disclosed an antipathy for UHF and a preference for the more simple VHF installations.
The permittee, an experienced and successful radio station operator, used every (illegible) without lowering its program standards. In the hope of making the station more attractive to sponsors, and a the same time reducing costs of operation, WKNA-TV entered into an agreement with WOAY-TV, at Oak Hill near Beckley, West Virginia, which made possible the sale of time on the two stations as a package.
Competent engineers advised the permittee that neither increased power nor increased antenna height would materially alter its coverage in the rugged terrain in and around Charleston.
The WKNA-TV investment in land, building and equipment totals (illegible) and its net operating losses amount to $266,787.29, or an average of over $16,600 for each month of operation.
Under these circumstances, WKNA-TV suspended operation at the close of the broadcast day on February 12, 1955. It did so with great reluctance in order to re-evaluate the possibilities of successful UHF operation and with the avowed purpose of resuming as soon as some reasonably satisfactory method for doing so could be found. Since that time, the permittee has explored all avenues which might lead to re-establishment of the WKNA-TV service and has maintained the station equipment in a stand-by condition, actually wrapped in Saran Wrap.
The plight of UHF and its problems came forcefully to the attention of the public as a result of the Potter Committee hearings in May and June, 1954. It then became apparent to the public that the future of UHF was extremely uncertain and presented problems which required solution by the Commission. On November 10, 1955 the Commission initiated a rule making proceeding in which possible solutions of UHF problems will be considered. Various proposals were considered in this proceeding, some of which, if adopted, would have eliminated commercial UHF entirely or would have provided additional VHF channels in areas such as Charleston. While this proceeding was pending, public doubt as to the future of UHF necessarily increased the problems faced by WKNA-TV in its search for a feasible method of resuming operation.
There is pending before the Commission a petition of American Broadcasting Company for reconsideration of the Commission's Report and Order of June 25, 1956 which proposes, among other things, the addition of Channel 5 to the Charleston-Huntington, West Virginia area for commercial use. If that proposal should be adopted, certainly WKNA-TV should be afforded consideration for its use in view of its strenuous but unsuccessful attempts to provide service through the medium of UHF.
Additionally, there are pending before the Commission proposals to permit subscription television which, if approved, may provide the solution to resumption of operation for WKNA-TV as a UHF station.
In view of the foregoing, applicant submits that an extension of the construction permit of WKNA-TV for a period of at least six months would be in the public interest.
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