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ION KPXB is back on the air!

After a long post-Harvey absence, plus reconfiguration to remove the defunct Airbox channels, KPXB channel 49 is back on the air. If you’ve rescanned to try to find the station during its absence, rescan again and you should find ION, Qubo, ION Life, and two shopping channels on 49.1 through 49.5.


Airbox closing down October 31

No more premium channels over the air as of October 31, as Airbox is notifying customers that it is shutting down operations at the end of the month.

The service had trouble finding its niche. It started off airing Spanish-language channels, and gradually shifted to offering movie channels from the Showtime family of networks. Now customers have been notified that their service will continue free of charge until shutdown.

Where oh where has my Qubo gone?

Viewers may have noticed recently that KPXB channel 49 has lost its subchannels. Main ION programming remains on channel 49.1, but Qubo, ION Life and infomercials disappeared from 49.2 through 49.4.

KPXB also carries the Airbox subscription service. To make room for more bandwidth for Airbox, the ION subchannels have moved down the dial to low-power sister station KBPX-LD, channel 46. This will make these channels harder to receive in most of the area, since KBPX’s signal doesn’t reach as far as KPXB’s.

You’ll now find Qubo on 46.2, ION Life on 46.3, ION Shop on 46.4, QVC on 46.5, and HSN on 46.6.

The subchannel shuffle

There are some new subchannel spottings this week on the Houston dial.

KVVV channel 15 has dropped EduSat from 15.8, marking that channel for lease. (Contact information on the dial page.) African-American-oriented Distinction TV has moved from KUGB 28.5 to KVVV 15.5.

Running a sizzle reel (more like a simmer reel) on KVVV 15.6 is KFTB, targeting Fort Bend County with “family programming, local content, sports, events and entertainment.”

LATV has moved from full-power KYAZ 51.6 to low-power KUGB 28.6.

KZHO 38.4 and 38.6 are airing an online radio station called “Manà, Un Sonido Diferente”.

New on KBPX 46.3 is Ion’s shopping channel, Shop TV. ShopTV won’t fit on Ion’s main station, KPXB, due to the Airbox MPEG-4 paycast.

KTMD 47.3, Soi TV, has gone off the air on all Telemundo stations nationwide. Its only air coverage now is on low-power stations in New York and Los Angeles.

KYAZ 51.5 has switched from Global TiVi to NT Entertainment. 51.6 is now showing infomercials.

And finally, KZJL 61.3 has turned on a test pattern.

AirBox packages announced

The over-the-air subscription service AirBox, broadcasting over subchannels of Ion stations across the nation, has turned on its website with details of its two packages.

Paquete Latino, for $10 a month, is the basic service level with five channels: TeleFórmula, Cine Méxicano, Pasiones, Sorpresa and GolTV.

Starz can be added for an additional $10 monthly.

The AirBox receivers retail for $99. The website lists a number of locations around Houston where the boxes will be available.

Here is a scan of the Airbox flyer.

AirBox channels now transmitted over Ion stations

This article is now long out-of-date and is kept here for historical reference. Airbox now broadcasts English-language movie channels (Showtime, Stars, Epix). Visit Airbox for more details and pricing.

Edit: Airbox has announced its packages and pricing.

The other day, Aeroducks posted that they had seen a list of a number of odd subchannels on KPXB channel 49:

I see on Titan TV Guide new stations listed……….Apparantly ION related……..Listed as 49.100 thru 49.501………….Rescanned but still not there………..

Interestingly 49.400 is Starz, as in movies………..

Trip Ericson has the answer to what is going on: a new subscription service called AirBox is transmitting several scrambled and unscrambled streams on subchannels of Ion stations nationwide. These streams are in MPEG4 format, so your current set won’t be able to decode them, even if your set can lock onto the subchannel.

The channels included are:
100 – Air Box 100
200 – TeleFormula
201 – CineMexicano
202 – LTNvela
203 – VideoRola
204 – Sorpresa
300 – Gol TV
400 – Starz
500 – qubo2, an unencrypted simulcast of qubo
501 – Life2, an unencrypted simulcast of IonLife

A domain for Airbox has been set up but is still showing a GoDaddy placeholder. Stay tuned…

Mobile Content Venture planning to deliver mobile DTV in Houston

The ATSC digital TV standard was not designed for use in a mobile setting. The bitrate of video signals encoded in ATSC is too high for error-correction to kick in reliably, which it would need to do when a receiver is in motion. (That’s my assumption — I’m sure more knowledgable readers will correct me if I’m wrong.)

Enter the Mobile Content Venture, a joint venture oif 12 major broadcast groups. They are developing, and testing (in some markets) a lower-resolution DTV signal that would be able to be received by mobile receivers.

MCV announced today their plans to upgrade TV stations in 20 markets, including Houston, with at least two ad-supported free-to-consumer channels in each market. Additional channels and markets are expected to be added over time.

In order to receive the mobile video service, consumers will need a device capable of receiving a specific type of mobile video broadcast, encrypted with conditional access. MCV is working with various OEMs and device manufacturers to ensure these devices are available in the second half of 2011.

MCV includes Fox (parent of KRIV and KTXH), ION Television (parent of KPXB), Belo Corp. (parent of KHOU), Post-Newsweek Stations Inc. (parent of KPRC), Cox Media Group, E.W. Scripps Co., Gannett Broadcasting, Hearst Television Inc., Media General Inc., Meredith Corp., and Raycom Media.

(Parts of this post come from a press release from MCV.)