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Battle of the Televised Yule Logs

SYRACUSE — Chalk it up as another benefit of DTV multicasting: Syracuse viewers looking to turn their sets into virtual fireplaces this Christmas will have at least two choices. WSYR-DT 9.2 and WCNY-DT 24.4 will each broadcast their own burning yule log video non-stop starting at noon on Christmas Eve. If your TV has picture-in-picture, all the merrier!

WCNY’s yule log broadcast will burn through 6pm on Christmas Day. WSYR’s version will run an hour longer, and it will also be streamed online at

New York City’s WPIX was the very first station to broadcast a yule log, starting in 1966. Management at the time thought it would be a nice “Christmas gift” to viewers, as many New Yorkers live in apartment buildings which lack real fireplaces.

Although WPIX’s yule log gained rave reviews and big ratings, the idea didn’t spread to other markets immediately. The prospect of clearing out an entire day (or more) of programming — and commercials — isn’t too appetizing to most stations.  After 23 years, even WPIX canceled its own Yule Log in 1990, citing the high cost of running commercial-free for an entire day. (By 2001, a new GM was in place and WPIX “rekindled” the tradition.)

In recent years, however, digital TV has made it easier for more stations to adopt the idea.  Stations can put the Yule Log on one of their digital subchannels, without interrupting programming on their primary channel.  Both WCNY and WSYR will accompany their fires with holiday-themed music.

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