WNYW, channel 5 (UHF digital channel 44), is the flagship station of the Fox television network, licensed to New York City and serving the New York metropolitan area. WNYW is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox, and operates as part of a duopoly with WWOR-TV (channel 9). The station maintains studio facilities at the Fox Television Center in the Lenox Hill neighborhood on Manhattan's Upper East Side, and its transmitter is located at the Empire State Building.
The station is available on satellite to DirecTV subscribers in the few areas of the Eastern United States that do not have an over-the-air Fox affiliate; DirecTV also carries WNYW on its Latin American service, and on JetBlue's LiveTV inflight entertainment system. WNYW is also available on cable providers in the Caribbean.
DuMont origins (1944 - 1956)Edit
The station traces its history to 1938, when television set and equipment manufacturer Allen B. DuMont founded experimental station W2XVT in Passaic, New Jersey (whose callsign was later changed to W2XWV when it moved to Manhattan in 1940). On May 2, 1944, the station received its commercial license – the third in New York City – on VHF channel 4 as WABD, its callsign named after DuMont's initials. It was one of the few television stations that continued to broadcast during World War II, making it the fourth-oldest continuously broadcasting commercial station in the United States.
The station originally broadcast from the DuMont Building at 515 Madison Avenue with a transmission tower atop the building (the original tower, long abandoned by the station, still remains).
On December 17, 1945, WABD moved to channel 5. WNBT took over Channel 4, moving from Channel 1, which the FCC was deallocating from the VHF TV broadcast band.
Soon after channel 5 received its commercial license, DuMont Laboratories began a series of experimental coaxial cable hookups between WABD and W3XWT, a DuMont-owned experimental station in Washington, D.C. (now WTTG). These hookups were the beginning of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first licensed commercial television network (although NBC was feeding a few programs and special events from their New York station WNBT to outlets in Philadelphia and Schenectady as early as 1940). DuMont began regular network service in 1946 with WABD as the flagship station.
On June 14, 1954, WABD and DuMont moved into the $5 million DuMont Tele-Centre at 205 East 67th Street in Manhattan's Lenox Hill neighborhood, inside the shell of the space formerly occupied by Jacob Ruppert's Central Opera House; channel 5 is still headquartered in the same building as of 2018, which was later renamed the Metromedia TeleCenter, and is now known as the Fox Television Center.
By February 1955, DuMont realized it could not continue in network television, and decided to shut down the network's operations and operate WABD and its Washington, D.C. station WTTG (also operating on channel 5) as independent stations, having previously sold WDTV in Pittsburgh to the locally-based Westinghouse Electric Corporation; the Westinghouse sale, arguably, hastened DuMont's demise. WABD thus became the New York market's fourth independent station, alongside WOR-TV (channel 9), WPIX (channel 11) and Newark-licensed WATV (channel 13). After DuMont wound down network operations in August 1955, DuMont Laboratories spun off WABD and WTTG into a new firm, the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation. Channel 5 gained sister stations in 1957, when DuMont purchased WNEW (1130 AM) in April of that year, and the construction permit for WHFI, which went on the air as WNEW-FM (102.7 FM) when it began operations in August 1958.
The Metromedia era (1957 - 1986)Edit
In May 1958, DuMont Broadcasting changed its name to the Metropolitan Broadcasting Corporation in an effort to distinguish itself from its former corporate parent. Four months later, on September 7, 1958, WABD's call letters were changed to WNEW-TV to match its radio sisters. The final major corporate transaction involving the station during 1958 occurred in December, when Washington-based investor John Kluge acquired Paramount Pictures' controlling interest in Metropolitan Broadcasting and appointed himself as the company's chairman. Metropolitan Broadcasting began expanding its holdings across the United States, and would change its corporate name to Metromedia in 1961. However, the Metropolitan Broadcasting name was retained for Metromedia's TV and radio station properties until 1967.
In the early 1960s, WNEW-TV produced children's shows such as Romper Room (until 1966, when it moved to WOR-TV), The Sandy Becker Show and The Sonny Fox Show, which was later known as Wonderama. Bob McAllister took over hosting Wonderama in 1967 and by 1970, Wonderama was syndicated to the other Metromedia stations. WNEW-TV also originated The Jerry Lewis MDA Labor Day Telethon in 1966, and broadcast the program annually until 1986, when it moved to WWOR-TV, where it aired through 2012. In the 1970s, local programming also included a weekly public affairs show hosted by Gabe Pressman, and Midday Live, a daily talk/information show hosted by Lee Leonard, and later by Bill Boggs. The station also carried movies, cartoons, off-network sitcoms and drama series and a primetime newscast at 10 p.m.
By the 1970s, channel 5 was one of the strongest independent stations in the country. Despite WOR-TV's and WPIX's eventual statuses as national superstations, WNEW-TV was the highest-rated independent in New York. From the early 1970s to the late 1980s, channel 5 was available as a regional superstation in large portions of the Northeastern United States, including most of upstate New York, and portions of eastern Pennsylvania and southern New England.
The Fox era (1986 - present)Edit
On May 4, 1985, Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, which had recently bought a controlling interest in the 20th Century Fox film studio, announced its purchase of Metromedia's six independent television stations, including WNEW-TV. Upon taking control in nearly one year later, on March 7, 1986 channel 5's call sign was slightly changed to the present WNYW. Along with the other former Metromedia independent stations, WNYW formed the cornerstone of the Fox Broadcasting Company when it launched on October 9, 1986. WNYW's schedule initially changed very little, as Fox aired programming only on late nights and weekends in the network's first few years. Although it began taking on the look of a network-owned station in the spring of 1987, channel 5 continued to carry decades old syndicated cartoons, sitcoms and films into the late 1980s. As a result, channel 5 was still considered an independent station.
Murdoch had one local obstacle to overcome before his purchase of channel 5 could become final, as News Corporation had owned the New York Post since it purchased the newspaper in 1976; the Federal Communications Commission's media ownership rules barred common ownership of newspapers and broadcast licenses in the same media market. The FCC granted Murdoch a temporary waiver to keep the Post and WNYW in order to complete its purchase of the Metromedia television stations. News Corporation would sell the New York Post in 1988, but bought the paper back five years later with a permanent waiver of the cross-ownership rules.
In the late summer of 1986, WNYW debuted the nightly newsmagazine A Current Affair, one of the first shows to be labeled as a "tabloid television" program. Originally a local program, it was first anchored by Maury Povich, formerly of Washington, D.C. sister station WTTG (and who would later briefly also anchor WNYW's evening newscasts). Within a year of its launch, A Current Affair was syndicated to the other Fox-owned stations; and, in 1988, the series entered into national syndication, where it remained until the original incarnation of the program was cancelled in 1996. On August 1, 1988, the station dropped its weekday morning cartoons in favor of a local news/information program titled Good Day New York, which continues to this day.
In 1994, Fox gained broadcast rights to road games of the National Football Conference; as a result, since then, WNYW has been the unofficial "home" station of the New York Giants. Among the notable Giants games aired on the station is the team's victory in Super Bowl XLII, when the Giants defeated the New England Patriots, who were 18-0 at the time and were one win away from the second perfect season in NFL history. The NFC road game contract also includes occasional New York Jets games (including any Jets games since 2014 that are passed up by WCBS-TV that involve them playing another AFC team via the 'cross-flex' broadcast rules).
From 1999 to 2001, WNYW held the broadcast rights to New York Yankees game telecasts, displacing longtime broadcaster WPIX. WNYW continues to show Yankees games through Fox's national broadcast contract with Major League Baseball.
In 2001, Fox bought BHC Communications, a television station group owned by Chris-Craft Industries, which effectively created a duopoly between WNYW and its former rival, WWOR-TV. In the fall of 2001, WNYW dropped Fox Kids' weekday block and moved it to WWOR-TV, where it ran for a few more months before Fox discontinued the network's weekday children's lineup at the end of that year. In 2004, Fox Television Stations announced that it would move WWOR's operations from Secaucus to WNYW's facility at the Fox Television Center in Manhattan. While some office functions were merged, plans for a full move to Manhattan were abandoned later that year due to pressure from New Jersey Congressman Steve Rothman (whose congressional district includes Secaucus) and Senator Frank Lautenberg on grounds that any move to Manhattan would violate the conditions of WWOR's broadcast license. The company also considered moving WNYW's operations to Secaucus, but to date both stations continue to maintain separate studio facilities.
On September 11, 2001, the transmitter facilities of WNYW, eight other New York City television stations and several radio stations, were destroyed when two hijacked airplanes crashed into and destroyed the north and south towers of World Trade Center. The station's transmitter has since been relocated to an antenna located atop the Empire State Building, where its transmitter facilities had been located until they were moved to the World Trade Center in the 1970s.
In April 2006, WNYW became the first Fox-owned to launch a website on Fox Interactive Media's MyFox platform, which featured expanded content, more videos and new community features such as blogs and photo galleries. The MyFox sites were later outsourced to WorldNow, and later Lakana beginning in 2015, after which the MyFox brand was discontinued.
On October 15, 2010, News Corporation pulled the signal of WNYW, WWOR, along with co-owned cable channels Fox Business Network, Fox Deportes, and National Geographic Wild from Cablevision systems in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut due to a dispute between Fox and Cablevision in which Cablevision claimed that News Corporation demanded $150 million a year to renew its carriage of 12 Fox-owned channels, including those removed due to the dispute. Cablevision offered to submit to binding arbitration on October 14, 2010, though News Corporation rejected Cablevision's proposal, stating that it would "reward Cablevision for refusing to negotiate fairly". WWOR, WNYW and the three cable channels were restored on October 30, 2010, when Cablevision and News Corporation struck a new carriage deal.
On December 14, 2017, The Walt Disney Company, owner of ABC's owned-and-operated station WABC-TV, announced its intent to buy the assets of WNYW's parent company 21st Century Fox for $66.1 billion, pending regulatory approval; with Comcast, the largest cable providers in New Jersey and owner of the NBC/Telemundo owned-and-opearated duopoly of WNBC/WNJU, also announced on June 13, 2018 that they will joined Disney in the bidding war to buy Fox's entertainment assets for $65 billion. the sale will not include WNYW and its sister station WWOR-TV along with the Fox network, the MyNetworkTV programming service and the Fox Television Stations unit, which will be transferred to a separate company.
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