ABC affiliate to go off air

By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – ABC affiliate WKDH will stop broadcasting at the end of the month, but it’s unclear – for now – how area viewers will get ABC programming.
The station is operated by Southern Broadcasting through an operating agreement with WTVA, the NBC affiliate in Tupelo.
WKDH has been broadcasting since 2001.
“We wish to thank you, our loyal viewers and all of those individuals who helped in our efforts to serve the public interest for your support over the years,” Southern Broadcasting said in a statement.
According to a news release from Southern Broadcasting, the license holder of WKDH is ending its agreement with WTVA.
The move to end WKDH’s programming does not affect WTVA or WLOV, the Fox affiliate.
WTVA also has an operating agreement with Lingard Communications of Athens, Ga., for WLOV.
Such agreements are called local marketing agreements, or LMAs. In those deals, the owner and licensee of a television station leases the station’s programming to another company. The Federal Communications Commission requires the owner to lease the entire facility, studio, transmitter and frequency to the leasing company.
Southern Broadcasting President Walter Spain did not return calls from the Daily Journal seeking additional information.
It’s not clear what ABC’s plans are to continue programming in the area. WKDH’s coverage reaches north Mississippi and northwest Alabama.
Southern Broadcasting said viewers “can let ABC know they want to continue watching their favorite ABC programs” by calling (212) 456-7777.
However, viewers wishing to comment on ABC programming are directed to another number, (818) 460-7477. ABC does not personally answer any calls, and viewers are asked to submit questions and comments to the company via email
But ABC’s Audience Relations Department, in an email, said, “we receive thousands of messages a day from our viewers, and while we appreciate you taking the time to provide feedback regarding our programming, we are not able to respond to each one directly. We encourage you to continue to communicate with us!”
The email then directs viewers back to its website.
In addition, it’s not clear how cable and satellite providers will handle the situation.
Otha Brandon, a spokesman for Comcast, said the cable company had been notified about WKDH’s plans and was working on contingency plans.
Other ABC affiliates in the area include WPTY in Memphis and WBBJ in Jackson, Tenn. The latter is not carried by cable providers.
dennis.seid@journalinc.com