WVIT, virtual channel 30 (UHF digital channel 35), branded on-air as NBC Connecticut or NBC CT, is an NBC owned-and-operated television station licensed to New Britain, Connecticut, United States and serving the Hartford–New Haven television market. Owned by the NBC Owned Television Stations subsidiary of NBCUniversal (itself a subsidiary of Comcast), it is a sister station to Hartford-licensed Class A Telemundo owned-and-operated station WRDM-CD (channel 19). The two stations share studios on New Britain Avenue in West Hartford and transmitter facilities on Rattlesnake Mountain in Farmington, Connecticut. On cable, WVIT is carried primarily on channel 4 throughout the Hartford–New Haven television market.
History[edit | edit source]
Early years[edit | edit source]
WVIT signed on for the first time on February 13, 1953, as WKNB-TV, owned by the New Britain Broadcasting Company along with WKNB radio (840 AM, now WRYM). The calls stood for Kensington–New Britain. It is Connecticut's second-oldest television station and the first on the UHF band. It has been an NBC affiliate for nearly all of its history. However, during its first two and a half years, it carried CBS programming as one of two affiliates in Connecticut, along with WNHC-TV (now WTNH) in New Haven. At the time, Hartford and New Haven were recognized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as separate television markets; the Commission would merge them into one market in 1954.
In January 1955, NBC announced it would purchase the WKNB stations for just over $600,000. Though the network was acquiring both radio and television outlets, the key to the deal was channel 30–as one of the first UHF stations to be owned by a major network, the FCC encouraged the networks to expand their owned-and-operated holdings to include outlets in the new band to help ensure its viability. Indeed, NBC made plans to boost channel 30's signal to cover the entire market.
WKNB-TV began carrying the full NBC programming schedule in October 1955. The FCC approved the sale to NBC in December 1956, nearly two years after it was first announced. The network then renamed channel 30 WNBC (for New Britain, Connecticut) in January 1957. In its first stint as an NBC-owned station, channel 30 failed to gain much headway in the ratings, largely because television manufacturers were not required to include UHF tuning capability until 1964. Viewers had to buy an expensive converter to watch WNBC, and even with one the picture was barely viewable. In addition, plans to relocate the station's tower and to boost transmission power never moved forward.
In September 1957, the Hartford-based Travelers Insurance Company signed on independent station WTIC-TV (channel 3, now WFSB), the state's second and last VHF station. Within a year of its debut (and despite its radio sister having been an NBC radio affiliate for over thirty years) WTIC-TV became Connecticut's CBS affiliate, replacing its owned-and-operated station, WHCT-TV (channel 18, now Univision affiliate WUVN). NBC then realized its UHF experiment was a lost cause (it had shut down its other owned UHF station in Buffalo, New York in October 1958), and in June 1959 sold WNBC and WKNB radio for $750,000 to Plains Television Inc., a joint venture of Transcontinental Properties and H & E Balaban Corporation (WKNB was spun off immediately afterward). As part of the deal, Springfield Television, the owner of fellow NBC affiliate WWLP in Springfield, Massachusetts, was to have held a one-third share in channel 30; it abandoned this stake before the deal's completion after concerns arose over WWLP and WNBC's overlapping coverage areas, but continued to hold an option to reacquire it for some time afterward pending FCC approval. In May 1960, channel 30's callsign changed again – this time to WHNB-TV (for Hartford-New Britain); NBC reclaimed the WNBC calls for its flagship radio and television combination (the former WRCA-AM-FM-TV) in New York City.
In 1966, WHNB-TV became, once again, one of two NBC affiliates in Connecticut; the network signed with Waterbury-licensed WATR-TV (channel 20) in order to get its programming into New Haven on a strong signal. By this time, television manufacturers were now required to include all-channel tuning. Channel 30 itself made up for the shortfall in its market coverage by operating two low-power translators (starting in 1971): W79AI (channel 79) in Torrington and W59AA (channel 59) in New Haven.
Later years[edit | edit source]
In the summer of 1977 Plains Television announced it would sell WHNB-TV to the original Viacom for $15 million. The former CBS Inc. subsidiary, now a leading television producer and distributor and the founder of Showtime, was making its first foray into broadcast station ownership. Shortly after assuming control in the spring of 1978, channel 30's call letters were changed to the present WVIT (for "Viacom International Television") to reflect its new ownership. Viacom immediately announced plans to boost WVIT's signal, and also made upgrades in the station's news department. In 1980, channel 30 signed on with a new transmitter that more than doubled its coverage area, giving it a clear signal to much of New Haven for the first time, though the channel 59 repeater was kept in service. WVIT became the sole Connecticut-based NBC affiliate in March 1982, when WATR-TV's affiliation contract with NBC ended and the station became independent WTXX (it is now WCCT-TV). The Torrington translator was turned off in 1987, and the New Haven repeater was shut down in the middle 1990s to allow full-powered WTVU (now WCTX) to begin operations.
Viacom purchased Paramount Pictures in 1994, and merged its five-station group (WVIT; KMOV in St. Louis; WHEC-TV in Rochester, New York; WNYT in Albany, New York; and KSLA-TV in Shreveport, Louisiana) into the Paramount Stations Group. Shortly thereafter, the merged company decided to divest itself of all of its major network affiliates to focus on stations that carried its then-upstart United Paramount Network (UPN). WVIT, the first television outlet Viacom purchased was the last station to be sold, as Viacom agreed to trade channel 30 to former owner NBC in return for future purchase rights to WWHO in Chilicothe, Ohio and WLWC in New Bedford, Massachusetts, two UPN-affiliated stations NBC was operating by way of local marketing agreements. The sale closed on December 8, 1997, making WVIT an NBC O&O for the second time in its history.
On December 4, 2017, NBCUniversal announced that it would buy Telemundo affiliate WRDM-CD and its Springfield satellite station WDMR-LP from ZGS Communications, as with several other NBC O&Os, WRDM would become a sister station to WVIT, creating the third duopoly in the Hartford–New Haven television market, following the duopolies of Nexstar Media Group's WTNH/WCTX and Tribune Broadcasting's WTIC-TV/WCCT-TV (though as a low-power station, WRDM is exempt from FCC ownership caps, including the duopoly rule). ZGS had sold WRDM's spectrum in the FCC's incentive auction for $10,574,516 and indicated that the station would enter into a post-auction channel sharing agreement, which occurred with WVIT at the start of the year. The sale was officially completed on February 1, 2018.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
|TV stations in New England|
|WVIT, Hartford/New Haven|
|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)