Mobile's Last Analog TV Station


Part One

By 2011, W30BX was the only TV station licensed to serve Mobile broadcasting an analog signal on a regular basis. It usually programming from the Home Shopping Network 24 hours a day with a signal produced at low power unlike most of the local TV stations producing signals at full power. The transmitter for the station is located on top of the RSA-BankTrust building in downtown Mobile building (the original name of the building was the First National Bank).

The owner of W30BX was Ventana Television, Incorporated, a subsidiary of the Home Shopping Network, Incorporated and the owner of 26 other TV stations broadcasting programs from the Home Shopping Network at low power at the time. There were 47 stations in all with the same programming broadcast at low power. Even though the station was classified in applications as a low-power TV station, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) classified it as a translator station, except it does not broadcast the same programming as a broadcast station operating on a different channel at full power.

W30BX was originally called W52BF when it began operating on channel 52 and the original owner of the station was South East LPTV, Incorporated. On Thursday, January 3rd, 1991, the FCC granted a request for a construction permit to build the transmitter of W52BF. On Monday, December 7th, 1992, the FCC accepted an application for a license to cover the construction permit for W52BF, which had its permit extended twice. The request for the license was granted on Thursday, January 21st, 1993.

On Monday, May 21st, 2001, the FCC accepted an application to transfer the ownership of W52BF from South East LPTV to Ventana Television. The request was granted on Wednesday, June 27th, 2001 and the transfer took affect on Tuesday, August 21st, 2001. On Thursday, October 28th, 2004, the call sign of the station was changed to W30BX to reflect the station's new broadcast channel number (30). An application for the change was accepted on the next day and later granted on Monday, January 24th, 2005.

By 2010, Ventana Television had plans to convert the analog facilities of W30BX for digital broadcasting. The FCC had granted them a construction permit on Friday, January 22nd, 2010 to switch from broadcasting on analog channel 30 to digital channel 30 (a "flash cut"). The expiration date of Tuesday, September 1st, 2015 on the construction permit was also the date by which all low-power TV stations were no longer supposed to broadcast analog signals, according to the FCC.

On Sunday, October 16th, 2011, W30BX was forced to stop broadcasting due to "untenable difficulties" with the former location of the transmitter for the station and the management of the location that forced all of the transmission equipment for the station to be removed from the site, according to the application the FCC accepted from Ventana Television on Wednesday, October 26th, 2011 that requested special temporary authorization for the station to remain silent for six months due to complications in the search for a different and suitable location for the station's transmission equipment (a second request was accepted by the FCC on Tuesday, April 17th, 2012. Both requests were never granted). On Friday, November 16th, 2012, the FCC cancelled the broadcast license for W30BX.


Part Two

Another local station that was similar to W30BX in signal power was W50CF, which is owned by Franklin Media, Incorporated in Pensacola, Florida (WPAN-TV in Fort Walton Beach is owned by Franklin Media also). The Word of Life Community Church of Chickasaw, Alabama operates W50CF instead of Franklin Media, which had sent an application to the FCC to assign the broadcast license of the station to the church voluntarily. The application was accepted on Thursday, December 11th, 2003 and its request was granted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2004, except the FCC does not list a consummation date for the deal. The same goes for the deal with B&C Communications, Incorporated, which was going to be assigned the license for W50CF after the FCC accepted an application on Monday, March 20th, 2000 and granted the request on Monday, April 30th, 2001.

W50CF’s programming includes programs from the Word Network, a national cable TV and satellite TV programming service specialized in religious programming, and local religious programs under the brand name of Life Television. The FCC lists the station as a translator, which was the status of the station when it used to broadcast the same programming as WPAN-TV in Fort Walton Beach, Florida after the FCC accepted an application for a construction permit on Thursday, August 16th, 1984 to make WPAN-TV the primary station to the station in Mobile. The construction permit was granted on Friday, September 28th, 1984. The translator had the call sign W69AU and analog channel 69 for its programming until Friday, November 15th, 1996, when it became W50CF.

On Friday, December 4th, 2009, the FCC accepted an application for W50CF claiming channel displacement due to the new broadcast site in Baldwin County, Alabama permitted for WFGX-TV in Fort Walton Beach. The application included a request for W50CF to move from broadcasting on analog channel 50 to analog channel 6.

Stations broadcasting at low power and translator stations were not required to stop broadcasting analog signals by Friday, June 12th, 2009 like stations broadcasting at full power, but they were required to switch to digital broadcasting sometime after that date. Class A stations, which are technically similar to stations broadcasting at low power, were required to broadcast three hours of local programming per week at least and follow most regulations applicable to stations broadcasting at full power that are not technical.

Before the station stopped broadcasting over the air, W50CF was transitioning to becoming a cable TV programming service and its programming was streamed live on the World Wide Web at Faith Video On-Demand/Live.

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