Upper Valley television viewers who turned the channel to WNNE 31 today got a new experience. Nothing.
At midnight last night, the former NBC affiliate -- based in Plattsburgh, NY and in Burlington, VT -- turned off its transmitter atop Mt. Ascutney. Viewers in this region who rely on an antenna to get television broadcasts will no longer get the station. It's still available through satellite and cable, but its only over-the-air transmission will now be from Mt. Mansfield -- as a CW affiliate. The station's Upper Valley office, off Sykes Mountain Avenue in White River Junction, will remain open.
The change comes after both WNNE and Vermont PBS auctioned off their Mt. Ascutney broadcast licenses in last year's FCC spectrum auction, for about $50 million apiece. The turnoff moment was last night. However, Vermont PBS will continue broadcasting from Mt. Ascutney until November 30, after it got an extension to put in place a plan for allowing viewers who get their signal over the air to continue doing so.
"We’re building out a replacement signal," says Jeff Vandegriek, Vermont PBS' viewer advocate. "We’ll be relaying the signal from our Rutland transmitter, and putting up four lower-power transmission sites across that region in order to relay that signal." One of those transmission sites will be atop Mt. Ascutney; the others will be in Northfield, Brattleboro, and Bennington.
Meanwhile, Justin Antoniotti, the president and general manager of WNNE/WPTZ, is on vacation and unavailable for comment. Stay tuned. Digitally.