Weak over-the-air TV reception wasn't the only snafu for 6ABC in June's digital-TV transition.
6ABC, which has the region's top-rated Action News, also lost its popular radio dial position - 87.7 FM.
"You don't know how much I miss it. Who are they to come in here and take that out of my car?" a distraught David Farina, 65, of Ardmore, said yesterday. The mail courier said he drove about 200 miles a day around the Philadelphia area and listened most of the time to 87.7 FM until it went off the air June 12. "I want it back," he said.
In a "frequency fluke," TV viewers could tune in to 6ABC at 87.7 FM on car or home radios and listen to the audio portion of 6ABC's shows, which include Good Morning America.
People could catch the dialogue and plot twists of afternoon soaps, or Live With Regis and Kelly. This was possible because 6ABC, like any TV market's analog Channel 6, broadcast on a frequency adjacent to FM radio stations. But when the TV world went digital June 12, analog radios could no longer receive 6ABC's signals.
"We are looking at some options of how people might hear us, but 87.7 is probably gone for good," Caroline Welch, a spokeswoman for 6ABC, said yesterday.
She could not estimate how many people listened to 6ABC on the radio, but she noted that "it was a pretty large number." The region has about three million TV households.
One problem is that if 6ABC were to broadcast its content specifically for radio, the Philadelphia TV station would have to secure new intellectual-property rights. Under the pre-June 12 broadcast situation, people could hear the 6ABC shows basically by accident. So 6ABC did not have to acquire intellectual-property rights to be heard on radio.
The station's bigger problem with the digital transition was that many thousands of people lost their TV reception because the digital signals behaved differently from the analog signals. The FCC has granted 6ABC a temporary approval to quadruple its TV signal to improve reception.
It was unfortunate that people lost the 6ABC signals either on television or the radio, Welch said, adding that "there has not been a mass viewership loss."