Alabama Public Television (APT) is a state network of Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) member television stations serving the U.S. state of Alabama. It is operated by the Alabama Educational Television Commission (AETC), an agency of the Alabama state government which holds the licenses for all of the PBS member stations licensed in the state. The broadcast signals of the nine stations cover almost all of the state, as well as parts of Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and Tennessee. The network produces public affairs and documentary programming; broadcast and online education programs for classroom use and teacher professional development; and electronic field trips serving K-12 students.
The network's offices and network operations center are located in Birmingham. APT also maintains studios adjacent to Patterson Field in the state capital of Montgomery, as well as a small secondary studio in the basement of the Alabama State House (not to be confused with the capitol building). APT also operated a studio in Washington, D.C., in partnership with the Folger Shakespeare Library. The AETC has operated a public radio station, WLRH (89.3 FM) in Huntsville, since 1977
Alabama was one of the earliest states to enter into educational television broadcasting when the Alabama General Assembly created the Alabama Educational Television Commission in 1953. In an unusual move at the time, the Commission requested allocations for four stations which would air the same programming at all times, fed from a central studio in Birmingham. At the time, it was apparent that much of the state outside of Birmingham, Montgomery, and Mobile was too poor and too rural to support a standalone educational station. The Commission thus wanted to ensure that all of the state's children would have access to educational television.
After two years of preparation, it signed on the nation's ninth educational television station, WEDM in Munford, serving Talladega. The transmitter was located atop Cheaha Mountain, the highest point in Alabama. When WBIQ in Birmingham came online in April 1955, Alabama became the first state in the nation with an educational television network. Alabama Educational Television made its first broadcast as a network shortly after WBIQ signed on. Since then, 25 other states have started public television networks, all based on Alabama's model. The network changed its name to the Alabama Public Television Network in the late 1960s, and shortened the name to simply Alabama Public Television in 1988.
WAIQ in Andalusia (now WDIQ in Dozier) went on the air in August 1956, bringing APT to south Alabama for the first time before being reassigned to Montgomery in December 1962. WAAY-TV 25 was issued a construction permit in Huntsville in 1962, but never signed on the air. (They would buy WAFG/31 instead in 1963.) Channel 25 in Huntsville would later become WHIQ in 1965. WAIQ was the first APT station to broadcast a digital signal in 2003, on UHF channel 14, but that signal was later moved to channel 27 on account of Montgomery station WSFA signing on its digital signal on channel 14. Commercial-licensed station WALA-TV in Mobile donated its former transmitter in Spanish Fort to APT in 1964, allowing WEIQ to bring the network to Alabama's Gulf Coast counties that November. WEIQ's transmitter power was increased during the 1980s.
In 1976, the Federal Communications Commission delayed renewal of AETC's licenses due to APT's refusal to air programs pertaining to the Vietnam War or the African-American community. APT management feared that airing these types of programs would cause angry public officials to cut the network's funding and put the network's future in jeopardy. Therefore, APT followed orders by state officials not to air certain programming during the 1960s and 1970s. However, it has taken a more independent stance over the last 30 years. The AETC took over the operation of Huntsville public radio station WLRH in 1977.
In January 1982, a major ice storm caused the collapse of the WCIQ tower, which was then rebuilt.
In August 2004, APT began datacasting on its digital broadcast signals to distribute digital multimedia content to ten elementary and secondary schools, in a pilot program. The datacasting model was replaced by APTPLUS, an online distribution of multimedia content which became available to every school in Alabama via the Internet. Every public school in Alabama registered to use APTPLUS within its first year of operation. Many private school teachers and home school families are also registered users.
For more than a quarter century, Alabama Public Television aired a nightly public affairs program, For the Record, covering statewide news and Alabama politics. The longest-running program of its kind on a PBS member station or regional or state network, it won an award for Best Local News Program from the National Educational Telecommunications Association (NETA), an organization of public television stations. Capitol Journal succeeded For the Record in 2008 and is produced at APT's Statehouse studio in Montgomery.
APT began broadcasting a high definition channel (APT HD) in 2005. In December 2006 it launched a digital how-to channel featuring established cooking, gardening, decorating, crafts and sewing programs called APT Create. A third digital channel, APT IQ, debuted in March 2007. Originally called APT IQ, the channel became APT World in October 2012 and offers news and documentary programming. 2017 brought the addition of "PBS Kids" statewide and "Huntsville ETV" on WHIQ Huntsville on 25.5 (Which has been on the air since 1966 via cable/microwave link to schools/ A Service of Huntsville Public Schools)
Today, APT's mission continues to be focused mainly on education. It provides educational services to Alabamians online, on-air through four digital subchannels, and through outreach services to educators and service provides statewide.
Full Power Stations
|Call signs||Location||CH||First Air Date|
|WCIQ||Mount Cheaha, AL||7||January 7, 1955|
|WBIQ||Birmingham, AL||10||April 28, 1955|
|WDIQ||Dozier, AL||2||August 8, 1956|
|WAIQ||Montgomery, AL||26||December 18, 1962|
|WEIQ||Mobile, AL||42||November 18, 1964|
|WHIQ||Huntsville, AL||25||November 15, 1965|
|WFIQ||Florence, AL||36||August 9, 1967|
|WGIQ||Louisville, AL||43||September 9, 1968|
|WIIQ||Demopolis, AL||41||September 13, 1970|