WINK-TV boasts the strongest Monday night lineup on television.
"Still Standing," "Listen Up," "Everybody Loves Raymond," "Two and a Half Men" and "CSI: Miami" attract millions upon millions of viewers.
Yet something's missing.
WINK's picture is dull compared to its competition.
The reason: My wife Gayle and I have high-definition television and WINK doesn't.
Don't the rest of you viewers in HDTV Land think it's time WINK got with the program?
I was ready to lambast WINK (CBS) for not keeping pace with NBC2 and ABC7 until Keith Stuhlmann, WINK's director of engineering, hit me with startling news Friday.
"Providing everything works out, part of the population will receive our first HDTV signal over Comcast and Time Warner by the end of the year," he says. "Over the air broadcasting will take about a year."
The ordeal for Fort Myers Broadcasting Company started in 1998 when the Federal Communications Commission assigned it Ch. 53 for digital transmission. The station asked the FCC for Ch. 9 in 2000.
The FCC tried to make it work, but ABC stations in Orlando (Ch. 9) and Miami (Ch. 10; digital Ch. 9) complained another Ch. 9 so close to their markets would pose a potential for interference.
Stuhlmann says the FCC ruled for WINK against the out-of-market stations, but Caloosa Television, operating low-power WEVU-TV on Ch. 9 in Naples, filed to get a Class A license, which thwarted WINK.
The FCC ruled against Caloosa Television on Oct. 6, clearing the way for WINK.
"It was frustrating for us the FCC took so long, but any minute we will get an FCC construction permit to build our transmission facility," Stuhlmann says.
Consumer Electronics Association's Vision magazine says half of U.S. consumers intend to buy an HDTV for their next television.
That's what happened to us.
We watched a 31-inch TV for 15 years. Last November, we bought a 57-inch Toshiba HD.
At first, it seemed too large for our living room, but the large screen grew on us.
Once you watch HDTV, you don't want anything else.
Tuning in HDTV is like waking up in television heaven.
"It's so lifelike it's like you're in the living room of the sitcoms," Gayle says. "The travel shows have such depth it feels like you're climbing the mountain with them."
Greg Stetson, WINK program director, estimates Southwest Florida ranks slightly ahead of the 15 percent national average of homes with HDTV.
"I get about 10 to 12 requests a month for HDTV," he says. "As prices come down, more people will buy them."
Sean Stevens, a Circuit City salesman, says a 27-inch, HD Magnavox sells for $500.
"We sell more HDTVs than analog," he says. "Almost every TV over 42 inches is HD."
I'm keeping an eye on WINK. Mondays couldn't get much better except with HD.
Sam Cook's column appears Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays. Call 335-0384 or fax 334-0708. E-mail: email@example.com