WTTG, virtual channel 5 (UHF digital channel 36), is a Fox owned-and-operated television station licensed to the American capital city of Washington, District of Columbia. The station is owned by the Fox Television Stations subsidiary of Fox Corporation, as part of a duopoly with MyNetworkTV owned-and-operated station WDCA (channel 20). The two stations share studios, offices and transmitter facilities on Wisconsin Avenue in the Friendship Heights neighborhood in the northwest quadrant of Washington.
On cable, the station is available on Comcast Xfinity channel 25 in Washington, D.C. (cable channel 5 is occupied by an alternate feed of MASN) and channel 5 in the Maryland and Virginia suburbs, and on Cox Communications, RCN and Verizon FiOS channel 5.
The station's signal is rebroadcast on a low-powered digital translator station, W46BR-D, in Moorefield, West Virginia (which is owned by Valley TV Cooperative, Inc.).
Early years (1945–1958)
The station traces its history to May 19, 1945, when television set and equipment manufacturer Allen B. DuMont founded W3XWT, the second experimental station in the nation's capital (after NBC's W3XNB, forerunner to WRC-TV). Later in 1945, DuMont Laboratories began a series of experimental coaxial cable hookups between W3XWT and its other television station, WABD (now WNYW) in New York City. These hookups were the beginning of the DuMont Television Network, the world's first licensed commercial television network. DuMont began regular network service in 1946. Almost a year later on January 3, 1947, W3XWT received a commercial license – the first in the nation's capital – as WTTG. The station was named for Thomas T. Goldsmith, Jr., the DuMont Network's chief engineer and a close friend of Dr. DuMont.
Like WABD and DuMont's other owned-and-operated station, WDTV (now KDKA-TV) in Pittsburgh, WTTG was far more successful than the network as a whole. In 1956, after DuMont shut down network operations, WTTG and WABD became independent stations and were spun off from DuMont Laboratories as the DuMont Broadcasting Corporation (WDTV was sold to Westinghouse Electric Corporation the previous year). DuMont later changed its name to Metropolitan Broadcasting in order to distance itself from its former parent company.
As an independent station (1958–1986)
In 1958, Washington investor John Kluge bought controlling interest in Metropolitan Broadcasting from Paramount Pictures and installed himself as its chairman. He changed the company's name to Metromedia in 1961. Goldsmith sat on Metromedia's board of directors for over a quarter-century. Channel 5 gained a sister station on radio when Metromedia purchased WASH (97.1 FM) in 1968. At first, WTTG ran on a low budget. However, in the late 1960s, it benefited from Metromedia's aggressiveness in acquiring top syndicated programming, giving it a significant leg up on WDCA, which signed on in 1966.
By the 1970s, WTTG was one of the leading independent stations in the country, running a broad lineup of cartoons, off-network sitcoms, first-run syndicated shows, older movies, local newscasts and locally produced programs. During this time period, and well into the early 1990s, WTTG was the flagship station for the Georgetown Hoyas men's basketball team as well as Big East Conference men's basketball. Its main claim to fame was Panorama, an afternoon talk show hosted by Maury Povich and John Willis.
When cable television began in the 1970s, WTTG became a regional superstation. At one point, it appeared on every cable provider in Maryland and Virginia, as well as most of Delaware and in parts of West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Pennsylvania.
Transition to Fox (1986–present)
Metromedia owned the station until 1986 when Rupert Murdoch, after buying 20th Century Fox, purchased the Metromedia television stations to form the nucleus of the Fox network. WTTG became one of Fox's six original owned-and-operated stations when the network launched on October 9, 1986, all the while retaining consistently high ratings, a rarity for a Fox station at the time, and continuing to easily out-rate WDCA and new competitor WCQR (channel 50, now WDCW). Initially, its programming was similar to what it had run as a true independent station, since Fox only programmed for a few hours on weekends.
As channel 5 transitioned to an O&O and more independent stations signed on, it lost much of its cable audience. Though not distributed as widely as it once was, it is still available on several cable providers in Maryland and Virginia outside the D.C. metro area. For instance, it is still carried on cable in Charlottesville, Virginia, even though the city has had its own Fox affiliate, WAHU-CD, since 2005; both stations are carried on basic cable in the Charlottesville area. It also served as the default Fox affiliate for Salisbury, Maryland until the debut of new default Fox affiliate, "Fox21 Delmarva", a subchannel of WBOC-TV, on August 21, 2006.
During the 1990s, the station added more syndicated talk shows and reality shows. It continued to air afternoon cartoons from Fox Kids until the fall of 2001, when the block moved to WDCA (only to be reduced to just Saturdays nationwide in 2002); WTTG reacquired Fox children's programming from WDCA later on in 2003, under the banners of FoxBox and 4Kids TV. On October 29, 2001, Fox bought WDCA from Viacom's Paramount Stations Group, creating a duopoly with WTTG. The station continued to run top rated off-network sitcoms in the evenings.
From 1999 to 2006, WTTG utilized the "X-2 Package" for its theme music, but switched to the "O&O Package" in 2006, which they still use today.
|TV stations in Commonwealth of Virginia|
|WVBT, Hampton Roads/Norfolk|
|TV stations in Metropolitan Washington, D.C.|
|WRC 4 (NBC) |
WTTG 5 (Fox)
WJLA 7 (ABC)
WUSA 9 (CBS)
WDCO-CD 10 (JTV)
WFDC 14 (UNI)
WDCA 20 (MNTV)
WMPT 22 (PBS)
WDDN-LD 23 (Daystar)
WDVM 25 (Ind)
WETA 26 (PBS)
WRZB-LD 31 (Escape)
WWPB 31 (PBS)
WHUT 32 (PBS)
WZDC-CD 44 (TLM)
WMDO-CD 47 (UMas)
WWTD-LD 49 (MBCA)
WDCW 50 (CW)
WWPX 60 (Ion)
WFPT 62 (PBS)
WPXW 66 (Ion)
WJAL 68 (SBN)