PDT Staff Writer
The Ohio News Network TV channel is going off the air. “It will be on Aug. 31 at high noon,” ONN and WBNS 10-TV President and General Manager Tom Griesdorn told the Portsmouth Daily Times Thursday.
ONN went on the air a decade-and-a-half ago with an experiment in regional state news coverage, and Griesdorn says those were different times from today.
“It’s really the economics of the day,” Griesdorn said. “When we launched ONN 16 years ago, it was a different time and a different place. Today the cable news consumer has many different avenues to choose from to get their news. It’s the methods of obtaining news on a statewide basis that have changed dramatically, with online news, local devices - becoming kind of the on-demand method. It’s what news consumers want. They want it. They want it now.”
Griesdorn said the model of ONN was created in 1996 when there was a habit of families sitting down to dinner and watching the evening news.
“The changing viewer habits was a contributor. The economics of distributing was a factor. The opportunity, or lack thereof, to market successfully crossed platform on a statewide basis,” Griesdorn said.
“We are one of the very few regional cable news networks that operates within a specific defined area that is not really defined. The Ohio River doesn’t really stop the cable line that runs over or under the river into West Virginia. So it’s not as if we have a specified area. With television you have a circumference of about 50 miles around the tower with High Definition television, and that is as far as that signal is going to go. And the cable systems within that area are interested in the local news of that area. With ONN it’s a statewide expensive way of gathering news when you are trying to do this in literally 12 different television markets.”
Reports that channel placement by various cable systems played a role in the decision to go dark are not true, according to Griesdorn.
“In the state of Ohio we are carried by about 16 different carriers - Time Warner, Insight, AT&T, Comcast, Horizon, Nelsonville, New Knoxville, SuddenLink - I could go on and on, all of those carried ONN on a different channel,” Griesdorn said. “For 16 years we have been trying to get a single channel placement or number, but everyone’s system, and everyone who is providing channels to their respective subscriber’s system has a different philosophy. And when we don’t have a channel 10, like we do with WBNS TV in the market, it is very difficult to say, ‘watch us on channel 356 on Time Warner, channel 12 on AT&T,’ and it goes on. The marketing was very difficult.”
ONN, WBNS and The Columbus Dispatch all are owned by The Dispatch Printing Company. Griensdorn said ONN Radio will remain on the air as it is a completely different entity from the cable news network operation.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 232, or at email@example.com.