TV Stations Wikia

WPTZ is an NBC-affiliated television station licensed to Burlington, Vermont, United States. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on UHF channel 14 (or virtual channel 5 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield. Owned by the Hearst Television subsidiary of Hearst Communications, it is part of a duopoly with Montpelier, Vermont-licensed CW affiliate WNNE (channel 31) and the two stations share studios on Television Drive in the town of Plattsburgh.

WPTZ previously served as the default NBC affiliate for northern areas of the nearby Watertown, New York market (most notably Massena), while WSTM-TV in Syracuse served Watertown proper. Both WPTZ and WSTM-TV lost those statuses on December 1, 2016 when WVNC-LD signed on as the Watertown market's first full-time NBC affiliate.


Early years[]

The station signed on the air on December 8, 1954 as WIRI, licensed to the hamlet of North Pole, New York. It was owned by the Great Northern Broadcasting Company along with Plattsburgh's WIRY radio (1340 AM). The station's first studio facilities were located on Cornelia Street/Route 3 in Plattsburgh; the transmitter was located on Terry Mountain in Peru, New York. The station would have had the call letters WIRY-TV to match its radio sister, but at the time Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations did not allow two stations to share the same base call letters if they were licensed to different cities.

The station has been a primary NBC affiliate since its inception; it carried secondary affiliations with ABC until 1968 when WVNY (channel 22) signed-on, and with DuMont until that network ceased operations in 1956.

Renamed as WPTZ[]

Rollins Telecasting purchased channel 5 in 1956. The new owners changed the station's call letters to the present WPTZ (for PlatTZburgh); the WPTZ call had recently been dropped by the channel 3 facility in Philadelphia following its controversial trade by Westinghouse Broadcasting to NBC earlier in that year. In 1979, the station relocated its studios to a new building located on Old Moffitt Road in Plattsburgh. Rollins merged with Heritage Broadcasting in 1987 to form Heritage Media. In 1990, Heritage Media purchased Hartford, Vermont-based WNNE, which had been a separate station with its own news department. With Heritage's purchase, WNNE was made into a semi-satellite of WPTZ, significantly improving WPTZ's coverage in the southeastern part of the market. During the analog era, WPTZ was the only station in the market that did not operate any translators. WNNE's master control was transferred to WPTZ in 2000.

The changes[]

Heritage sold all of its broadcasting properties to the Sinclair Broadcast Group in 1997 prior to its merger with News Corporation. The sale protected new Fox affiliate WFFF-TV, which was initially operated by WPTZ under a local marketing agreement (LMA) and shared the analog transmitter on Terry Mountain. Otherwise WPTZ/WNNE, along with then-sister stations in Pensacola, Florida and Charleston, West Virginia would have been forced to switch to Fox. Sinclair, in turn, sold WPTZ/WNNE along with the WFFF LMA to Sunrise Television in 1998. Sunrise then decided to swap WPTZ/WNNE, along with Smith Broadcasting-owned KSBW in Salinas, California to what was then known as Hearst-Argyle Television in return for WNAC-TV in Providence, Rhode Island and WDTN in Dayton, Ohio; both of those stations were forced to be divested by Hearst-Argyle due to significant signal overlap with WCVB-TV in Boston and WLWT in Cincinnati (the FCC did not allow common ownership of two stations with overlapping coverage areas until 2000). The swap became official on July 2, 1998. WFFF began operating as an independently-owned and controlled station around the same time Hearst took over WPTZ/WNNE when the LMA with WPTZ was terminated.

On June 23, 1999, WPTZ petitioned the FCC to change its community of license (COL) from North Pole to Plattsburgh. The station cited the area's declining population as the reason for the change. The 2000 United States Census did not even count North Pole as a separate community, instead folding it into Lake Placid. The community-of-license change was approved by the FCC on January 5, 2011. For some time before then, the station had dropped North Pole from its legal station identifications.

Recent years[]

On July 9, 2012, WPTZ's parent company Hearst Television was involved in a dispute with Time Warner Cable, leading to WPTZ being pulled from Time Warner Cable and temporarily replaced with Nexstar Broadcasting Group station WBRE-TV of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania; Time Warner opted for such a distant signal like WBRE, as they do not have the rights to carry any NBC affiliate closest to them. The substitution of WBRE in place of WPTZ lasted until July 19, 2012, when the deal was reached between Hearst and Time Warner.

On August 2, 2016, just before the Summer Olympics in Rio, WPTZ changed its logo and on-air branding from "NewsChannel 5" to "NBC5".

On June 12, 2018, WPTZ announced they were moving to a brand new broadcast facility in South Burlington, Vermont. The launch is expected to happen by July 2019, when WPTZ will begin broadcasting newscasts in high definition.

TV stations in Northern and Central Vermont, Northeastern New York and Northwestern New Hampshire including Burlington and Plattsburgh
WNNE 31 (CW)
WFFF 44 (Fox)