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WWBI basic facts

Recent developments: Videotron might not carry WWBI after all.

Due to technical problems, illico subsribers are still getting PAXSAT instead of WWBI (PAX). They are still trying to resolve the problem but can't confirm a date yet. If they can't find a solution soon, they may have to remove the channel. The CTRC approved the distribution of WWBI-TV but not PAXSAT. It's pretty much a standard practice for the CRTC to let the cable companies provide an alternate feed for a brief period when there are technical difficulties. But only for a brief period. Remember during the ice storm when Fox Burlington was replaced with Fox Buffalo (or Fox Rochester depending on where you lived).

Some background

We were all lead to believe that PAX station WWBI was to be available to illico subscribers (Videotron digital) on channel 56. So far, that is not exactly true. Yes, PAX TV is available (since January 14th, 2004) but no, it is not from WWBI Plattsburgh that Videotron is getting the signal.

I've been told that this is due to an error made by Videotron's engineering department. They are working right now to fix the problem and get the WWBI feed, which is the signal they were supposed to be using in the first place.

Instead, they have been using a generic satellite signal (PAXSAT), which explains why Videotron viewers are seeing only infomercials in the daytime. (WWBI on the other hand tends to air daytime syndicated programming, such as Montel Williams and Judge Mathis) But the programming is the same during prime time, apart from the lack of local station IDs and Shop 'Til You Drop.

illico's very own on screen program guide identifies the PAX feed as WWBI. Also note, as reported previously, the CRTC did approve WWBI for Montreal-area digital coverage on June 10th 2003.

PAX TV is part of the following illico packages: iUsa, 30/30, iA-la-carte, iTelemax, iUltra, iMega.

History

Although launched in 1992 as an independent station, WWBI TV-27 was originally intended to become Montreal’s cross-border Fox affiliate, but that never worked out (As you may have noticed, there's a Fox 44 but no Fox 27). After unsuccessful negotiations with the Fox Network, WWBI had to settle for UPN affiliation status in 1995 and as if that wasn’t bad enough, they later became a PAX TV affiliate (When WFFF became a secondary WB station and WBVT switched from the WB to UPN).

In the early days of TV 27, the station placed radio ads on CHOM FM in Montreal, including ones for "Married with Children" reruns.

While it is extremely difficult to pick up WWBI, over the air, in Montreal, is not impossible. The web master had discovered this in 1995, from what was then, my third-floor apartment just a few blocks away from the St-Lawrence River in LaSalle. And apparently I wasn't alone. When, The Gazette's TV Times tried to remove TV 27 from their listings, they got a few complaints.

Programming highlights

At the risk of editorializing, I must say that WWBI is probably the most unusual local station I've ever watched. For an example, when they switched to UPN, they aired a locally produced promo for "Star Trek: Voyageur" which had the look and feel of a home video. The promo featured a Trekkie in full custom (or is that a Trekker, I never really knew the difference). I'm hoping that he was a local viewer and that perhaps TV 27 was just being nice to him because his performance made William Shatner seem worthy of an Oscar. (FYI: WWBI's switch to UPN is the reason why WVNY had to stop airing Voyageur that year, but fortunately it was still available on CFCF)

Also in 1995, WWBI often didn't bother to update their promos. That "Coming This Fall" promo you saw in the summer would still be airing six months later... In January! They would also play their promos in the same continuous loop and after a while you could actually predict what the next promo would be.

Apart from Voyageur, UPN shows at the time included "Deadly Games" with Christopher Lyodd (Taxi, Back to the Future) on Tuesday nights followed by "Live Shot" which was like an American version of E.N.G. In 1995, UPN only aired network programming on Monday and Tuesday Nights. WWBI still looked like a superstation, the rest of the week.

Saturday late nights included weird programming such as a show called "Weird TV" with Shadoe Stevens (American Top 40, Dave's World, Hollywood Squares). You only had to watch this show once to know why it was called "Weird TV." Other Saturday late-night hits included "Mystery Science Theater 3000," likely the only really funny show to ever to ever air on TV-27, and "Night Flight," an unusual mix of an independent short films and '80s music videos. Other syndicated hits included "Jerry Springer" and "Jenny Jones."

Today WWBI is home to the "New Candid Camera," "Supermarket Sweep" and reruns of "Bonanza," all of which air on the full PAX-TV network. There's little local or even syndicated programming left on WWBI, which, in this case, may actually be a good thing.


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