Fayette County

WWE Smackdown could move to another station

Professional wrestling's Friday Night Smackdown, which is nothing but fuzzy images or a black screen to Lexington residents now, may soon have a home on a major network affiliate.

MyNetworkTV, which broadcasts the World Wrestling Entertainment show, is in talks with major network affiliates in Lexington to carry the .show.

The existing MyNetworkTV affiliate, low-powered WBLU-62, is not available on cable and cannot be viewed by many leading to disappointed wrestling fans.

Executives at some of Lexington's affiliates have received calls in the last week from representatives of MyNetworkTV.

Network spokeswoman Claudia Russo declined to discuss the negotiations except to say, "We're working to resolve the matter as quickly as possible."

Programming director Barbara Howard at CBS affiliate WKYT-27 said a representative of the network called about the possibility of reairing the show at a later time but has not returned her follow-up call.

WKYT has two digital subchannels. One is devoted to The CW, on which Friday Night Smackdown aired before moving to MyNetworkTV earlier this month. The other shows weather coverage.

"I'll be glad to look at it," said Howard, who added Ohio Valley Wrestling earlier this month to The CW to fill the void left by WWE's decision to move Smackdown to MyNetworkTV. The Louisville-based OVW show airs at 11 p.m. Saturdays.

"I wanted to make sure we reached viewers who were interested in wrestling," she said.

MyNetworkTV also contacted NBC affiliate WLEX-18 to ask for a general meeting with management, but "it would be impossible for us to put WWE on" because the station has no digital subchannel, said general manager Tim Gilbert.

The station is contracted with NBC and others and would be forced to break those, "which we wouldn't do."

Chris Aldridge, general manager at ABC affiliate WTVQ-36, declined to comment.

That station airs a digital subchannel that broadcasts only weather coverage. The program could conceivably air on that channel, which would be available to all digital televisions or those with digital converter boxes.

Fox affiliate WDKY-56 general manager Michael Brickey said he has not received any calls from MyNetworkTV.

The issue has arisen because WBLU-62 cannot be viewed locally by many residents. The low-powered station's out-of-state owner said last year it planned to boost the signal, but it has no local staff and has not returned calls in recent weeks.

The company, Equity Broadcasting, owns a number of similar stations around the country, Gilbert said, and uses them to broadcast either low-rated networks like MyNetworkTV or its internally owned Retro Television Network programming. That consists of popular television shows from the 1960s to 1990s.

Executives at Equity Broadcasting have declined to return multiple calls.

"They basically run these channels almost totally automated," Gilbert said.

All advertising is national and is generally "call-this-number" advertising for products like "Ginsu knives," he said.

"The station gets paid based on how many people call that number ... It's quite sophisticated," Gilbert said. "For an ad like 'clear out all the shrubs or grass' for $150, you may get $12 for that. Ginsu knives might get you $3."