WTVJ, virtual channel 6 (UHF digital channel 31), is an NBC owned-and-operated television station licensed to Miami, Florida, United States and also serving Fort Lauderdale. The station is owned by the NBC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal (itself a subsidiary of Comcast), as part of a duopoly with Fort Lauderdale-licensed WSCV (channel 51), a flagship station of the co-owned Telemundo network. The two stations share studio and office facilities on Southwest 27th Street (off I-75) in Miramar; WTVJ's transmitter is located between Northwest 210th and 207th Streets in the Andover neighborhood of Miami Gardens (northeast of Hard Rock Stadium).
Florida's first television station
The station first signed on the air on March 21, 1949 at 12:00 p.m. WTVJ was the first television station to sign on in the state of Florida, and the 16th station in the United States. Originally broadcasting on VHF channel 4, the station was founded by Wometco Enterprises, a national movie theater chain that was headquartered in Miami. The station's original studio facilities were located in the former Capitol Theater on North Miami Avenue in Downtown Miami, which was the first theater operated by Wometco when the company was founded in 1926. The station was a primary CBS affiliate, but also carried programming from the other three major broadcast networks of that era (ABC, NBC and DuMont). During the late 1950s, the station was also briefly affiliated with the NTA Film Network.
WTVJ was the only commercial television station in the Miami market until Fort Lauderdale-based WFTL-TV (channel 23) signed on the air on December 24, 1954, operating as an NBC affiliate. However, WFTL had no success whatsoever in competing against WTVJ, in part because television sets were not required to have UHF tuning capability until the All-Channel Receiver Act went into effect in 1964. NBC continued to allow WTVJ to cherry-pick programs broadcast by the network until WCKT (channel 7, now Fox affiliate WSVN) signed on in July 1956 and WFTL went dark (that station's former channel 23 allocation is now occupied by Univision owned-and-operated station WLTV-DT). Channel 4 shared ABC programming with WCKT, by way of an arrangement with the network to allow both stations to cherry-pick programming. Although ABC had a full-time affiliate in WITV (channel 17), due to the aforementioned lack of UHF penetration at that time, this arrangement continued until WPST-TV (channel 10, now WPLG) signed on in August 1957. WTVJ also served as the de facto CBS affiliate for West Palm Beach, until WTVX (channel 34, now a CW affiliate) signed on in 1966.
WTVJ served as the producing station for CBS' Jackie Gleason Show after Gleason moved the program from New York City to Miami Beach in 1964.
Acquisition by KKR
Wometco founder and president Mitchell Wolfson died in 1983 and a long-rumored secret plan to run the company after his death was never found. The remaining Wolfson heirs had no desire to keep the company in the family, and it quickly unraveled, making it a ripe takeover target. Investment firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. took over Wometco in 1984 in a $1 billion deal, the largest corporate buyout in history to that date. KKR sold most of Wometco's entertainment assets to the latter company's chief operating officer Arthur Hertz in 1985. With the cash from this sale, KKR then purchased Storer Broadcasting's station properties, shortly after the Federal Communications Commission raised the television station ownership limit from seven stations (with no more than five located on the VHF band) to twelve. KKR's intent was to sell the properties within a few years at a higher price.
In 1986, KKR opted to put WTVJ and the Storer stations on the market. The firm had plans to sell channel 4 for a record price of close to $500 million (as part of a $1.85 billion group deal with six of the Storer stations), although the station was actually worth far less. CBS saw a chance to acquire an owned-and-operated station in the fast-growing Miami market. However, it lost a bidding war to television syndication company Lorimar-Telepictures. CBS, however, tried to block the deal; Lorimar produced Dallas, Knots Landing, Falcon Crest, and other shows for the network and did not want them controlling the clearance rights of those particular programs. Thus, CBS threatened to yank its affiliation with WTVJ if the Lorimar deal went through, which would force the station to become an independent. Lorimar then walked away from the group deal in May 1986, CBS then made an offer to buy WTVJ for $170 million, which was far below KKR's asking price of at least $270 million
Acquisition by NBC
Over the next few months, the only offers to buy WTVJ came from companies that owned large groups of independent stations, such as Tribune Broadcasting, Pappas Telecasting Companies and Chris-Craft Industries/United Television. These and other companies wanted to convert WTVJ into an independent station or a Fox affiliate, for a price far lower than KKR's asking price. The only way that KKR could make such a large profit was to sell WTVJ to another network, as some potential buyers had no interest in keeping CBS while the only ones that could purchase the station for the asking price were ABC and NBC.
CBS did not believe that KKR would sell WTVJ to another network, so it returned with a very low offer. KKR turned CBS's offer down almost out of hand and then approached the other networks. ABC was not interested, since it was more than satisfied with its longtime affiliate, WPLG. However, NBC was very interested because its longtime affiliate, WSVN, heavily preempted the network's daytime lineup—including programs that the network aired in the noon timeslot, in favor of running a local newscast—as well as an occasional prime time show. NBC was far less tolerant of preemptions than CBS and ABC at the time, and was particularly annoyed at losing valuable advertising in such a fast-growing market. This had not been a problem at first since most of the programs that were preempted by WSVN aired on West Palm Beach-based WPTV, which provided at least grade B signal coverage to nearly the entire Miami-Fort Lauderdale market, and had been available on cable in the area for decades. In the few cases where WPTV and WSVN both turned down an NBC program, the network usually arranged for other stations in the area to carry its programming. However, by 1985, WPTV had been dropped from most Miami cable systems to make way for new cable channels (partly due to limited headend channel capacity), resulting in some NBC programs that were preempted by WSVN being unavailable to some viewers. NBC realized that purchasing its own station with less restrictive ownership laws would guarantee that its entire network schedule would be cleared. Hence, it made an offer almost as high as Telepictures did a few months before, and in 1987, KKR agreed to sell WTVJ to NBC for $270 million.
NBC assumed control of WTVJ in mid-September 1987. However, both WTVJ's and WSVN's respective affiliation contracts with CBS and NBC did not expire until December 31, 1988. As a result, NBC faced the prospect of having to run WTVJ as a CBS affiliate for over a year. This did not sit well with either NBC or CBS, and both approached WSVN's parent Sunbeam Television about ending the station's NBC affiliation contract early. However, Sunbeam balked; its owner, Edmund Ansin, did not want to lose NBC's strong lineup of sports programming that year, including the Major League Baseball World Series and the Summer Olympics. Sunbeam also made an unsuccessful play to take the CBS affiliation. NBC did strip nearly all CBS branding from channel 4, and began airing nearly all NBC programs that were preempted by channel 7. In turn, this resulted in WTVJ preempting some CBS programs, with the affected shows airing instead on WCIX. CBS then formally approached channel 6, despite the fact that it would have provided a much weaker signal to Fort Lauderdale than that provided by WTVJ or WSVN. WCIX's transmitter was located near Homestead, 20 miles (32 km) southwest of downtown Miami, giving Fort Lauderdale only a weaker, "Grade B" signal. Accordingly, West Palm Beach's longtime ABC affiliate, WPEC, was persuaded by CBS to switch to the network in order to ensure full coverage in Fort Lauderdale and northern Broward County. In August 1988, CBS announced that it would purchase WCIX from the TVX Broadcast Group, which itself had purchased the station from Taft in 1987.
WTVJ ended its 40-year affiliation with CBS on January 1, 1989, and became the third station in Miami to have carried programming from NBC. CBS moved the rest of its programs over to WCIX, while WSVN became the new Fox affiliate for South Florida; most of WCIX's syndicated programs, such as most of its cartoons and sitcoms—with exceptions such as I Love Lucy, Family Ties, Star Trek: The Next Generation and a few others—went to WDZL (channel 39, now CW affiliate WSFL-TV). In a bit of irony, WTVJ also continued to preempt NBC's noon offerings in favor of carrying a local newscast. That timeslot would be given back to the network's affiliates in 1991. Shortly after the switch, the station debuted an image campaign based on the Bobby McFerrin song "Don't Worry, Be Happy", that lasted until 1993.
Move to channel 6
In 1994, Westinghouse Broadcasting (Group W) signed a long-term deal with CBS, in which three Westinghouse-owned stations (one that was aligned with ABC and two that also were aligned with NBC) would become CBS affiliates, joining two other stations owned by the company that were already affiliated with that network. Westinghouse would later acquire CBS that August, turning all of the Group W radio and television stations into CBS owned-and-operated television and radio stations. One of the stations involved in the affiliation agreement was Philadelphia's longtime NBC affiliate, KYW-TV. CBS decided to sell off its longtime O&O in that market, WCAU-TV. This led to a deal that was struck on November 21, 1994 between CBS and NBC, in which CBS sold the channel 6 transmitter facility and license to NBC as compensation for the loss of KYW-TV and Westinghouse's other NBC affiliate, WBZ-TV in Boston. In return, CBS received the stronger channel 4 transmitter facility, license and cash as compensation for the loss of WCAU (KCNC-TV in Denver and KUTV in Salt Lake City (which was acquired by NBC earlier that year) were both purchased by, and ended up switching to CBS as a result of this deal).
In April 1995, WTVJ dropped all references to its channel 4 allocation outside of news programming in preparation for the channel swap; newscasts continued to be branded as Channel 4 News until the move to channel 6; however, it rebranded as "WTVJ NBC" for all other purposes, using a logo that featured only the NBC peacock logo with the WTVJ call letters (rendered in the Univers typeface) placed below it.
At 1am on Sunday, September 10, 1995, WTVJ and WCIX swapped channel positions. WTVJ's entire intellectual unit (calls, shows, NBC network, and staff) moved from channel 4 to channel 6, while the intellectual unit of WCIX, which changed its calls accordingly to WFOR-TV, moved to channel 4. However, both stations' retained their respective existing studio facilities. Due to the manner in which the transfer was structured, the two stations were required to swap licenses in addition to their transmitting facilities. As a result, WTVJ legally operated under the old WCIX license until the end of the analog broadcasting era. This move led to WPTV picking up market share of NBC programming in Broward County from WTVJ, as WTVJ moved its transmitter from its longtime home on the Broward–Dade county line to WCIX's former transmitter in Homestead (about 20 miles (32 km) south of Miami). WPTV's signal in Fort Lauderdale is actually closer to city-grade than WTVJ's (though it still transmits a Grade B signal in the area).
In April 1998, WTVJ sold its Capitol Theatre studios to the General Services Administration for $11.6 million, which planned to build a courthouse on the space where the building was located. Three months later, it was announced that the station had purchased a plot of land located off the intersection of I-75 and Miramar Parkway in Miramar, with plans to build a 64,000 square foot studio facility for the station; WTVJ moved into the newly constructed complex in 2000.
Aborted sale to Post-Newsweek
On March 19, 2008, NBCUniversal announced that it was putting WTVJ up for sale for an estimated asking price of $350 million. On July 18, Post-Newsweek Stations entered into an agreement to buy the station for $205 million; the purchase would have created a duopoly between WTVJ and Post-Newsweek-owned WPLG. However, FCC ownership rules prohibit the ownership of two of the four highest-rated television stations in a single market in terms of overall audience share. Under ordinary circumstances, this would preclude a duopoly between two "Big Three" stations; however, according to Nielsen, WPLG ranked in first place and WTVJ ranked sixth overall in total-day viewership during the May 2008 sweeps period, allowing the possibility of a purchase (WTVJ's sixth-place ranking was due to several factors including the station's own programming weaknesses at the time and the strong ratings performance of WLTV). Incidentally, this would have resulted in a rare instance in which the senior partner in one duopoly became the junior partner in another, as NBC had owned both WTVJ and WSCV.
Had the sale gone through, WTVJ would have consolidated its operations with WPLG at that station's Hallandale Beach Boulevard studios in Pembroke Park. Post-Newsweek would have also acquired all of WTVJ and WSCV's new high definition production equipment that was installed in the stations' Miramar studios. Despite a formal petition that was filed with the FCC against the proposed sale, the sale was approved by the Federal Trade Commission on October 6, 2008. However, the sale was canceled on December 23, 2008, citing poor economic conditions and the lack of FCC approval.
On March 21, 2009, WTVJ celebrated its 60th anniversary and aired a half-hour special called WTVJ: The First 60 Years, which highlighted the station's history since its March 21, 1949 sign-on.
On January 6, 2017, WTVJ and fellow NBC affiliates WFLA-TV in Tampa and WDIV-TV in Detroit were admonished by the FCC along with seven other stations for failure to comply fully with the sponsorship disclosure requirements of its political advertising rules. The stations were cited for such violations as not identifying the officials of the sponsoring organizations, not noting the issue that non-candidate spots addressed, and identifying a sponsor by an acronym rather than its full name.
|TV stations in Florida|
|TV stations in South Florida and the Keys, including Miami–Dade, Fort Lauderdale and Key West|
|WPBT 2 (PBS) |
WFOR 4 (CBS)
WTVJ 6 (NBC)
WSVN 7 (Fox)
WGEN 8 (ESTRELLA)
WPLG 10 (ABC)
WTXI-LD 11 (TLR)
WURH-CD 13 (TFC/THC)
W16CC-D 16 (Cubana)
WLRN 17 (PBS)
WDFL-LD 18 (MIRA)
WEYW-LP 19 (ACTION)
WSBS 22 (MEGA)
WLTV 23 (UNI)
WDGT-LD 24 (CTN Int'l)
WBFS 33 (MNTV)
WVFW-LD 34 (ESTRELLA)
WPXM 35 (Ion)
WCAY-CD 36 (Tourist info)
WBEH-CD 38 (AZA)
WSFL 39 (CW)
WJAN-CD 41 (ATeVe)
W43CB-D 43 (Ind)
WHFT 45 (TBN)
WFUN-LD 48 (ATeVe)
WSCV 51 (TLM)
WLMF-LD 53 (LATV)
WBEC 63 (ETV)
WAMI-DT 69 (UMas)