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WTNH, virtual channel 8 (VHF digital channel 10), is a television station licensed to New Haven, Connecticut, and is the ABC affiliate for the Hartford–New Haven television market. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV affiliate WCTX (channel 59), also licensed to New Haven. The two stations share studios on Elm Street in downtown New Haven, however, master control and some internal operations originate from hub facilities at Nexstar-owned NBC affiliate WWLP (channel 22) in Chicopee, Massachusetts. WTNH's transmitter is located in Hamden, Connecticut.

HistoryEdit

Local pioneer (1948–1970)Edit

WTNH first went on the air on June 15, 1948 as WNHC-TV, originally broadcasting on channel 6. The station was founded by the Elm City Broadcasting Corporation, owners of WNHC radio (1340 AM, now WYBC; and 99.1 FM, now WPLR). Elm City Broadcasting founded WNHC radio in December 1944 and was principally owned by Patrick J. Goode, U.S. postmaster for New Haven; and Aldo DeDominicis, a radio salesperson. The station is Connecticut's oldest television outlet.

WNHC-TV was originally an affiliate of the DuMont Television Network, and claims to have been the first full-time station of that short-lived network. The station originally broadcast from WNHC radio's building on Chapel Street in Downtown New Haven. However, with no studio facilities of its own, it could not produce local programming. For a time, WNHC-TV simply rebroadcast the signal of DuMont's New York City flagship, WABD (now Fox flagship WNYW). In October 1948, the station added CBS programming to its schedule, and additional secondary affiliations with NBC and ABC followed a year later. The station was the first in the country to use videotape for local programming and one of the first to broadcast in color.

When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s Sixth Report and Order ended the four-year freeze on television construction permit awards in 1952, it also reorganized channel allocations to alleviate interference issues. As a result, WNHC-TV changed frequencies and moved to channel 8 in December 1953. The next year, the FCC collapsed New Haven and Hartford into a single market. WNHC-TV shared some CBS programming with New Britain's WKNB-TV (channel 30, now NBC owned-and-operated station WVIT) until 1955, since WKNB's signal was not strong enough to cover New Haven at the time.

In 1956, the WNHC stations were purchased by Philadelphia-based Triangle Publications. Also that same year, WNHC-TV lost its CBS affiliation when that network purchased WGTH-TV in Hartford (channel 18, later WHCT and now Univision affiliate WUVN). This left channel 8 as a sole ABC affiliate, although it shared ABC programming with WATR-TV (channel 20, now WCCT-TV) in nearby Waterbury until 1966. Under Triangle ownership the WNHC stations moved to a new studio facility, on College Street in downtown New Haven, around 1960.

Until the original WTIC-TV (channel 3, now WFSB) signed on from Hartford in September 1957, WNHC-TV was the only station on the VHF dial in Connecticut. Many viewers northeast of Hartford used outdoor antennas to get spotty reception of CBS and NBC programs from Boston, while those southwest of Hartford with outdoor TV antennas got great to excellent reception from their respective New York City flagship stations, which were local channels to most of Connecticut. By contrast, most of Connecticut got a clear picture and pitch-perfect sound from channel 8.

Later years (1970–present)Edit

Triangle was forced to sell its broadcast outlets in 1970 after then-Pennsylvania Governor Milton J. Shapp complained the company had used its Pennsylvania stations in a smear campaign against him. The WNHC stations were among the first batch to be sold, going to Capital Cities Communications, along with sister stations in Philadelphia and Fresno, California in a deal finalized in 1971. However, Capital Cities could not keep the radio stations because of the FCC's then-restrictions on ownership, resulting in WNHC-AM-FM being spun off to separate third parties. WNHC-TV changed its call letters to the current WTNH-TV in April 1971, not long after Capital Cities officially took over (the station dropped the -TV suffix from its calls in 1985, but continued to call itself "WTNH-TV" on-air well into the 1990s). The station later relocated for a second time in May 1983, into its present studio facility on Elm Street.

Capital Cities bought ABC in 1986 in a deal that stunned the broadcast industry. But the merged company was unable to keep WTNH due to a significant signal overlap with ABC's New York flagship station, WABC-TV. Like the other major stations in Connecticut, WTNH's signal reaches Fairfield County and most of Long Island, both of which are part of the New York City market. At the time, the FCC normally did not allow common ownership of two stations with overlapping coverage areas, and would not even consider granting a waiver for a city-grade overlap (the FCC began allowing common ownership of two stations with overlapping coverage areas in 2000). As a result, WTNH was spun off to Cook Inlet Television Partners, a subsidiary of Cook Inlet Region, Inc., an Alaska Native Regional Corporation. During the mid-1980s, the syndicated Sally Jessy Raphael talk show originated from the WTNH studios in New Haven, until the show moved to New York City later in the decade.

Cook Inlet sold WTNH to LIN Television in 1994. When a new UHF independent station in New Haven, WTVU (channel 59, now WCTX) signed on in 1995, WTNH began operating the station through a local marketing agreement (LMA). In 2001, LIN TV bought WCTX outright. On May 18, 2007, the company announced that it was exploring strategic alternatives that could have resulted in the sale of the company. On March 21, 2014, Media General announced that it would purchase LIN Media and its stations, including WTNH and WCTX, in a $1.6 billion merger. The merger was completed on December 19.

On September 8, 2015, Media General announced that it would acquire the Meredith Corporation for $2.4 billion, with the combined group to be renamed Meredith Media General if the sale had been finalized. Because Meredith already owned WFSB, and the two stations ranked among the four highest-rated stations in the Hartford–New Haven market in total day viewership, the companies would have been required to sell either WTNH or WFSB to comply with FCC ownership rules as well as recent changes to those rules regarding same-market television stations that restrict sharing agreements; WCTX would have been the only one of the three stations affected by the merger that could legally be acquired by Meredith Media General, as its total day viewership ranked below the top-four ratings threshold. However, on January 27, 2016, Nexstar Broadcasting Group announced that it had reached an agreement to acquire Media General (which was approved on January 17, 2017), resulting in the termination of Meredith's acquisition by Media General.

On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media—which has owned Fox affiliate WTIC-TV (channel 61) since 1996 and CW affiliate WCCT-TV (channel 20) since 2001—for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. Nexstar is precluded from acquiring WTIC and WCCT directly or indirectly, as FCC regulations prohibit common ownership of more than two stations in the same media market, or two or more of the four highest-rated stations in the market. (Furthermore, any attempt by Nexstar to assume the operations of WTIC and WCCT through local marketing or shared services agreements may be subject to regulatory hurdles that could delay completion of the FCC and Justice Department's review and approval process for the acquisition.) As such, Nexstar will be required to sell two of the stations (including one ranking in the top four in ratings) to a separate, unrelated company to address the ownership conflict, potentially creating two new duopolies. On March 20, 2019, it was announced that Nexstar would keep the WTNH/WCTX duopoly and sell the WTIC/WCCT duopoly to McLean, Virginia-based Tegna Inc. as part of the company's sale of nineteen Nexstar- and Tribune-operated stations to Tegna and the E. W. Scripps Company in separate deals worth $1.32 billion; this would make the WTIC/WCCT duopoly the first television properties in Connecticut and southern New England for Tegna.


TV stations in New England
WTNH, Hartford/New Haven

WMTW, Poland Spring; WVII, Bangor
WCVB, Boston; WGGB, Springfield
WMUR, Manchester
WLNE, New Bedford
WVNY, Burlington

TV stations in Hartford/New Haven
WFSB 3 (CBS)
WTNH 8 (ABC)
WUVN 18 (UNI)
WRDM-CD 19 (TLM)
WCCT 20 (CW)
WEDH 24 (PBS)
WHPX 26 (Ion)
WVIT 30 (NBC)
WTXX-LD 34 (AZA)
WHCT-LD 38 (AZA)
WUTH-CD 47 (UMas)
WRNT-LP 48 (RTV)
WEDN 53 (PBS)
WCTX 59 (MNTV)
WTIC 61 (Fox)
WEDY 65 (PBS)
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