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December 01, 2008

KAAL ABC 6 turns up the volume in Roch. market

Psqxbbpqwezlvi12120089537Here's a little from a piece I had on KAAL in today's edition, in case you missed it:

KAAL-TV Channel 6 is out to push some buttons to better tune into Rochester as well the rest of its local television market.
“At the end of the day, I think we’ll be the No. 1 TV station in the market,” says station manager David Harbert.

To do that, the Austin-based station owned by Hubbard Broadcasting Co. of St. Paul is spending about $500,000 on high-tech cameras and other equipment to launch an initiative that station officials say is “unique” in broadcasting.

Why spend the money and time on a push like this?

“If you look at how television stations operate, they service broader areas,” says Rob Hubbard, president and CEO of the Hubbard Television Group.

“In the history of that marketplace, I think you’d see we’ve been undercovering Rochester. It is our intention to fully cover the market without taking anything away from other areas.”

A big obstacle for KAAL to overcome is the impression that it’s an Austin station and an outsider in Rochester.

Rochester-based KTTC has long been the local leader in the Rochester television market. Its morning newscast recently was rated at 7.6 compared to KAAL’s rating of 0.6.

Part of KAAL’s recent investment went toward equipment that allows news anchors in the Austin and Rochester studios to seamlessly co-anchor a newscast. 


Perched on top of the Broadway Residence and Suites, formerly Broadway Plaza, is a KAAL camera. The 26-floor building is the tallest one in Rochester.

Most local stations use a “skycam” for weather shots and live online images. And while KAAL is already using its lofty position for those duties, this cutting-edge camera can contribute a lot more. With incredible zooming power, the camera can shoot a man-on-the-street interview taking place in the Peace Plaza, a block away.


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Good for KAAL. Some local competition is needed.

We've long watched KAAL to get our Rochester news. I even commented to one of their reporters once the oddity that KAAL often leads with all-Rochester stories while KTTC leads with all-Austin stories. She said, "Yeah, I don't know why that is." Whatever the reason, KAAL's coverage is superior, IMO. That, and Nicole King ain't bad on the eyes, either.

That super-zoom camera makes me kind of paranoid, though.

Any of this money going into HD equipment?

Gee, I wonder why anyone would think a station named after Austin and Albert Lea doesn't focus on Rochester. Duh.

KAAL has long been better than the "NEWSCENTER" and FOXY. Try them and you will not watch Tom or Ali.

KAAL has been trying to get an antenna closer to Rochester with more power so it can provide an HD broadcast signal to this market.

While those of you with Charter might have KAAL-DT in HD, those without Charter (DirecTV, Dish, rabbit ears) are unable to get this feed.

DirecTV and Dish subscribers in Rochester are able to get what are called Waivers from KAAL for HD programing.

When a DirecTV or Dish subscriber gets a waiver, they are then provided with the WABC-DT HD feed in addition to the KAAL-TV SD (Standard Def) feed.


On a related note, when a DirecTV or Dish subscriber wants CBS in HD in Rochester, they can get a waiver and receive WCBS-DT in HD in addition to KIMT-TV (SD).

If you are interested in this type of discussion or have questions, there's a great website at

You might want to go forward a few pages, as the discussion goes as far back as 2004.

Of course people think they're an Austin station, duh! Their newscast/set is in Austin. Their anchors are from where? Hmmm, Austin and Albert Lea. Personally I don't care for either KTTC or KAAL newscasts. KTTC focuses too much on national news and fluff stories. And KAAL is like watching a college newscast. The FOX news is pretty much the KTTC news in my book, it's just on earlier which is ok for a busy person like me. But, please Rochester stations (and I'm not talking KAAL, because they just aren't a Rochester station - the Hubbard guy pretty much admitted that and he owns it, right? I'm talking KTTC and FOX) get some REAL news coverage and more follow up to major stories in our area. Quit having national stories or a story about a woman who makes quilts your lead story. It's a good size city, dig something up.

Kiger's Notebook, the only news worth watching!

Chris J. Popp where can I get this waiver?

Chris Popp..
Thanks for the info..I have direct TV and do not get local programming (KTTC, KIMT, KAAL, FOX 47) in HD. I did apply for waivers on each station, but was declined. I did however, purchased a rabbit ears antenna and can pick up KIMT, FOX 47, KTTC and WB. But no KAAL. I wanted those programs through antenna, because I want to watch sports in HD, and through the antenna, I can pick up HD programming for NBC, FOX, and CBS. Well, that's my 2 cents.

You can get waivers by calling DirecTV and asking for it. Cite that you want HD but can not pick it up where you live. They will ask you for some info like your address and zip code and then they then contact the station.

When the switch to Digital happens on Feb. 17, the power on KTTC and KXLT will be increased significantly. This means that if you got spotty reception or lived more than 10 miles or so away from the antenna towers in the far south east of Rochester, you will have no problems getting the signal with an indoor antenna.

For those wondering about local channels in HD via DirecTV, KXLT and KTTC have already switched the signal that is provided in SD to the DT signal. This will allow a smooth transition when DirecTV has a satellite that will handle our local market.

But don't hold your breath. Rochester is a "4th tier" market, so this could be late 2009 or 2010. Right now, KTTC, KXLT, KIMT and KAAL do not broadcast in HD locally. Only when those stations get a network feed do you receive HD content.

Tier Markets (size examples):
1 - NY, LA, Chicago, Detroit
2 - MPLS/STP, San Antonio, Portland (OR)
3 - Des Moines, Portland (ME), Rockford, IL, Green Bay
4 - Rochester (MN), Boise, Farmington (NM), Duluth (MN)

So, you can see the pecking order by population size of the broadcast area that the largest markets go first. This is due to the number of satellites that are currently available for DirecTV and what will be coming up online in the next 12 months.

Keep in mind that Rochester only got locals on DirecTV in Dec, 2005. That's because we were last on the totem pole.

Why not just take the existing signal and go from SD to HD? Because the amount of bandwidth for HD is approx 4x greater than SD.

I understand the tier market, but I don't understand why Mankato, La Crosse, for example have HD locals available with Direct TV.

Market: La Crosse-Eau Claire, WI
Rank: 127
Pop.: 215,610

Market: Rochester, MN-Mason City, IA-Austin, MN
Rank: 154
Pop.: 144,700


As you can see, LaX/Eau has a higher market rank in size then we are.

That's good info, but why would mankato have HD offered by Direct TV? The population there is probably 40,000-50,000. It was about 40,000 when I went to college there 5 years ago.

Here is the current markets offered local HD, and upcoming market launches...


My guess on why Mankato gets HD channels and Rochester doesn't (yet) is that 3/4 of Mankato's "local" channels are actually out of the Twin Cities. KSTP, KARE and KMSP are Mankato's local ABC, NBC and FOX channels. KEYC (CBS) is the only TV station actually in Mankato, so they may be get a break and be able to piggy back their HD signal on the satellite since Mankato's other market stations are up there already. I'm guessing it's easier to add one new HD channel for Mankato than adding satellite space for the Rochester/Austin/Mason City market's four HD channels. But again I'm just guessing. I'm hopeful Rochester's local channels will be on DirecTV very soon.

Wish we can get KARE11, and WCCO on DirecTV here in Rochester... We can get the Twin Cities Radio, but not TV??


The reason we can not get KARE and WCCO is because there are broadcast areas that stations have rights to. The Rochester market has KTTC, KXLT, KAAL and KIMT as local network affiliates. Those channels then get exclusivity on DirecTV and Dish.

Why? Ad dollars

Those stations sell ads to area businesses and they want to make sure that viewers in the same "market" will see those ads.

To get a station outside of this market, you need waivers from the local network affiliate. This won't happen unless you are unable to receive those broadcasts via an OTA (Over the air) antenna.

So, why can the cable company deliver KARE and WCCO but not Directv?

Actually Chris, you are wrong this time. And here I was starting to think you actually worked in broadcast!

While it's true that broadcast areas have "rights" to "areas", it's not all because of ad dollars.

A Television Market Area is a group of counties in the United States that are covered by a specific group of television stations. The term is used by the U.S. Government's Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to regulate broadcast, cable, and satellite transmissions, according to the Code of Federal Regulations, at 47 CFR § 76.51. The DMAs not only delineate local broadcasts, but also delineate which channels will be received by satellite or cable subscribers ("must carry" rules). These market areas can also be used to define restrictions on rebroadcasting of broadcast television signals. Generally speaking, only stations within the same market area can be rebroadcast. The only exception to this rule is the "significantly viewed" list. KARE and & WCCO are considered significantly viewed in the Rochester market on cable, so they get to stay on your dial.

DMAs were also, in part, to have a quantifiable way to rate television programs. In a non-metered market, such as Rochester, Nielsen collects diaries from viewers to "measure" viewership of television programs. They do this four times a year and these periods are known as "sweeps". Generally they occur in February, May, July, and November. (Although sweeps will occur in March in 2009 because of the DTV transission)

While Chris is very insightful about somethings, not everything is as it seems. Television stations work for BOTH client and viewers. It's not all about the ad dollars. Stations want to make sure thier viewers have access to local news and local programming, too. You can't learn everything by googling, Chris.

Broadcaster - I stand (sit?)corrected. I did not realize that the "significantly viewed" rule was in effect with regards to KARE and WCCO. I thought the station needed to be closer to the market for that rule to apply.

To that end, why does DirecTV not follow the rule then and carry WCCO and KARE in this market?

I didn't Google a lot of the info I've shared :)

As far as Nielsen is concerned, it would be nice if they had People Meter in this demo as opposed to "the book"

“At the end of the day, I think we’ll be the No. 1 TV station in the market,” says station manager David Harbert.

So was KAAL number 1? What were they number 1 in? Local news? Total viewers? Primetime programming?

Hmmmmm, & who said they were 1? I thought KAAL dumped paying Nelsen awhile back?

Seems like Dave made a big statement, but is it true?

Shouldn't a could journalist follow-up when someone is speaking out from an orpheus that's south of their shoulders?

Chris, have you successfully *used* the waiver process in the last 3 years? Has ANYONE? I've tried here, failed repeatedly, my parents live in a river valley in AZ, they can not get any kind of reception over the air, but they can't get a waiver for 2 of the 4 major networks because according to the tool that directv uses, they can receive over the air signals.

It's pretty easy to look at the fcc database of transmitters and the topography map and see that there's no way in hell they're ever going to get a signal, but apprantly the tool used by directv (and everyone else, since it's from the FCC, and with only a little bit of work you can get it... I've looked at the interfaces) only takes two things into account:

1. zip code, specifically it uses the geographic center of it
2. distance to transmitter and it's rated power

So the vairous things it doesn't take into account, that it should:

1. transmission pattern (very few transmitters in the west are truely unidirectional, most are focused)

2. actual physical location (in my parents case, the zip code they live in covers almost 50 miles up and down the river valley.)

3. terrain. (to go back to my parents case, there are two maintain ranges between them and the cluster of transmission towers they're supposedly able to receive. They live in the foothills of the first one, and the transmitters are just below the peaks on the opposite side of the second ones, beaming a foucused pattern down in to the large valley on the other side and the various big cities that live there.

One other failure of the waiver system, it appears to only work for comercial broadcasters. If you want public television you're out of luck. I'd love to have TPT instead of Iowa public television... but there isn't even a way to request it with a waiver.

Oh, and I'd LOVE to use an indoor antena to pickup the OTA signal, except that DirecTV sent me their crippled HR21 receiver... with no OTA connection. So I would need to get a seperate tuner, as my "early adopter" TV is only "HD Ready"... so it shows 1080i content just fine, but it has no tuner atsc or otherwise.

Chris -

Your question is a vary complicated one. Why don't satellite companies carry significantly viewed stations in our market?

The truth is, they can if they so wish to. There is a lot of red tape and hoops and legal jargon that goes along with it and it can in essence take years for satellite companies to be able to. In most cases, Direct TV and Dish Network won't even attempt to start the process in the Rochester market. It's just not big enough and I don't think they've necessarily had an outpouring from subscribers to do so.

As for KARE and WCCO, they are closer to the Rochester market than LaCrosse and about the same distance as Mankato. The DMA to which they belong is actually a "neighbor" DMA to market 153.

And I want the truth - I don't think David meant that KAAL was number one in anything right now. I think he meant that he feels they WILL be number one (at something) someday. I could be wrong, but that's how I read it.

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