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David Lampel-Run WSVI-TV Channel Loses Its ABC Affiliation, Just In Time For The Bowl Game

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NEW YORK – Speculation that ABC would yank its affiliation with WSVI-TV Channel 8 has been rife since at least 2011.

And confirmation that it has finally happened came in the form of the programming that is being scrolled on Innovative Cable TV – there is no ABC programming scheduled for today.

For football fans, that includes the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl between Michigan and Florida scheduled to kick off this afternoon at 2 p.m. local time.

WSVI-TV Channel 8 CEO David Lampel, a New York City resident, did not immediately return a request for information about the loss of affiliation with ABC.

Sources said that the current affiliation agreement between ABC and WSVI-TV officially ended at midnight on December 31, 2015 – which was last night.

Innovative TV which carries WSVI-TV Channel 8 as its ABC affiliate in the territory apologized for the lack of required notice that occurred when Channel 8 switched to ION TV and began airing Law and Order SVU nearly all day long.

Innovative said it did not receive timely notification of the change and was not able to provide the mandated 30-day notification to its customers because of Channel 8’s decision to keep the news to itself.

Innovative said that it was not officially notified of the changes to WSVI-Channel 8 until December 31, 2015, according to the release.

“The company has worked closely with Lilly Broadcasting to acquire an ABC affiliate and that was achieved on January 5, 2016. ABC is currently on Channel 56 on St. Croix and Channel 4 in St. Thomas-St John until the channel realignment takes place on January 15, 2016 when ABC will air on Channel 14 in both districts,” said Graciela Rivera, vice president of Cable TV Services. “I want to thank our technical team for working quickly to resolve this matter. Once again, we sincerely apologize for any confusion this may have caused our valued customers.”

Sources have also told the Virgin Islands Free Press that corporate ABC headquarters in New York had determined to move the ABC affiliation away from the Lampel-owned WSVI-TV at least two months ago if certain specific obligations were not fulfilled immediately.

A source inside WSVI-TV said that the ABC affiliation for the Virgin Islands has been given to a company with staff in Richmond, Virginia and San Juan, Puerto Rico but that the transition to the new, more community-oriented ownership would not take place in time for viewers to see their favorite bowl games on ABC/ESPN today.

Lampel is a radio disc jockey legend in New York. But his critics have argued that he had no previous experience running a television station prior to a heading up a group that took over the management of WSVI-TV about 20 years ago under the name Alpha Broadcasting.

Viewers of WSVI-TV have complained that the quality of the programming, including the production quality of its commercials and news programs, have greatly diminished under the stewardship of Lampel, especially in the last 10 years. Channel 8 has the lowest-rated news program in the territory.

But if you’re really desperate to see the 2016 Buffalo Wild Wings Citrus Bowl, Channel 124/ESPN-U on Innovative Cable TV will be running the big football game at 1 a.m. Virgin Islands time on Jan. 2, 2016.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy has been reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands since 1989. He is originally from Detroit, Michigan.

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