WVNY is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Burlington, Vermont, United States, serving Northern Vermont's Champlain Valley and Upstate New York's North Country, including Plattsburgh. It broadcasts a high definition digital signal on VHF channel 13 (or virtual channel 22 via PSIP) from a transmitter on Vermont's highest peak, Mount Mansfield. The station can also be seen on Charter Spectrum and Comcast Xfinity channel 4 in SD, and in HD on Spectrum digital channel 704 (channel 889 on former Time Warner Cable systems) and Xfinity digital channel 722.
Owned by Mission Broadcasting, WVNY is operated by Nexstar Media Group through a local marketing agreement (LMA). This makes it a sister station to Nexstar-owned Fox affiliate WFFF-TV (channel 44, also licensed to Burlington) and the two stations share studios on Mountain View Drive in Colchester, Vermont.
Like other network stations serving Burlington and Plattsburgh, WVNY has a large audience in Southern Quebec, Canada. This includes Montreal, a city that is 10 times more populous than the station's entire U.S. viewing area. Most Vidéotron systems in Southern Quebec carry WVNY as their ABC affiliate.
WVNY signed on the air on August 19, 1968, and aired an analog on UHF channel 22. It was the first station in the area to air live broadcasts in color. The station initially operated from studios located on Hegeman Avenue in Colchester. In 1974, it changed its call letters to WEZF-TV to match its sister FM radio station, WEZF. In 1982, the call letters were switched back to WVNY. It later moved its operations to a new facility on Market Square, off Shelburne Road/US 7 in South Burlington. WVNY was the host station for the 1980 Winter Olympics and the famous "Miracle on Ice" hockey game between the United States and Soviet Union.
For many years it competed against fellow ABC affiliate WMTW in Portland, Maine; WMTW's analog transmitter on Mount Washington covered most of Vermont. That station had been the ABC affiliate of record for the market until this station signed-on and continued to be offered on many of the area's cable systems well into the 1980s. From the 1980s until 1995, WVNY dropped ABC's General Hospital in favor of cartoons, as well as some of ABC's Saturday morning offerings for syndicated ones. and aired Boston Red Sox baseball games on Friday nights. Many viewers could still see General Hospital on CFCF-TV in Montreal. In March 1977 the station began airing The Edge of Night in its recommended 4 p.m. time slot and later moved it to 10:30 a.m. In April 1983, amid declining ratings against Sale of the Century on WPTZ, the soap opera was dropped by WVNY. The station also dropped I Married Dora in favor of the 1987 Sea Hunt syndicated program on Friday nights. From 1987 to 1990, the station aired Canadian Football League games as part of the Canadian Football Network (CFN).
Citadel/Smith Media era
International TV Corporation then sold the station to Citadel Communications in 1982. Citadel sold both WVNY along with WMGC (now WIVT) in Binghamton, New York to the U.S. Broadcast Group in 1995, who in turn sold it to Straightline Communications in 1998. Unlike the other two stations owned at the time by Straightline Communications (WTVX in Fort Pierce, Florida and WLWC in New Bedford, Massachusetts, which were operated through LMAs by Viacom's Paramount Stations Group as sister properties to Viacom-owned stations in the adjacent Miami–Fort Lauderdale and Boston markets, respectively), Straightline operated WVNY outright. Straightline sold WTVX and WLWC to Viacom outright in November 2001 but retained WVNY.
During the 1990s, it frequently dropped network programming in favor of infomercials. As a result, several ABC shows were never seen in Montreal except on satellite. However, in the late 1990s, WVNY began airing the entire ABC schedule, which continues to this day. The only exceptions was from 2003–2005, as it would pre-empt Jimmy Kimmel Live! for the same purpose (at first only the last half-hour of the show but later the whole hour) and the Sunday edition of Good Morning America from 2004 to 2005, as well as its first incarnation of the program from 1993 to 1999. In 2005, WVNY became a sister station to WFFF-TV after Lambert Broadcasting acquired this station and entered into a local marketing agreement with Smith Media (owner of WFFF-TV). The company then moved WVNY into that station's Colchester facilities. This arrangement placed WVNY in the unusual position of being the junior partner as an ABC-affiliated station in a virtual duopoly with a Fox affiliate (most virtual or legal duopolies involving a Fox affiliate and a Big Three-affiliated station result in the Fox affiliate serving as the junior partner).
During the analog era and for a time after the digital transition, WVNY operated five additional repeater signals. Originally, WIXT-TV in Syracuse, New York served Massena and Malone. On September 23, 1987, this was replaced by new sign-on WFYF in Watertown. However, both stations were available in Massena and Malone for a short time. Eventually, WVNY added repeater station W60AF on channel 60 in Malone. A retransmission dispute forced Time Warner Cable systems to replace WVNY with future sister station WUTR from Utica, New York on December 16, 2010. At the same time, WFFF-TV was replaced by WNYF-CD from Watertown. Both stations returned to the lineup on January 8, 2011.
Lambert Broadcasting agreed to sell WVNY to Mission Broadcasting on November 5, 2012. Concurrently, Smith Media sold WFFF-TV to Nexstar Broadcasting Group, which operates all of Mission's stations through shared services agreements. On January 14, 2013, The FCC approved the sale of WVNY. The transaction was completed on March 1. At the sale's closure, Utica NBC affiliate WKTV was left as Smith Media's only remaining television station property until its sale to Heartland Media was consummated in 2014.
On January 27, 2016, it was announced that Nexstar would buy Media General for $4.6 billion. WVNY and WFFF became part of "Nexstar Media Group", joining a cluster of television stations Nexstar owns in New England, including fellow ABC affiliate WTNH in New Haven, Connecticut, CBS affiliate WPRI-TV in Providence, Rhode Island, and NBC affiliate WWLP in Springfield, Massachusetts. In addition, WVNY and WFFF also became sisters with fellow ABC and Fox affiliates WTEN and WXXA-TV, respectively, in Albany, New York. These stations also serve Bennington County, Vermont, making Nexstar responsible for ABC and Fox programming in 13 of the 14 counties in Vermont. The lone exception, Windham County, is served by Boston's WCVB-TV and WFXT, respectively (ABC programming in Windham County is also available through Manchester, New Hampshire's WMUR-TV).
On June 15, 2016, Nexstar announced that it has entered into an affiliation agreement with Katz Broadcasting for the Escape, Laff, Grit, and Bounce TV networks (the last one of which is owned by Bounce Media LLC, whose COO Jonathan Katz is president/CEO of Katz Broadcasting), bringing one or more of the four networks to 81 stations owned and/or operated by Nexstar, including WVNY and WFFF-TV.
On December 3, 2018, Nexstar announced it would acquire the assets of Chicago-based Tribune Media for $6.4 billion in cash and debt. The deal—which would make Nexstar the largest television station operator by total number of stations upon its expected closure late in the third quarter of 2019—would give the WVNY/WFFF virtual duopoly a sister station in CW affiliate WPIX in New York City.
|TV stations in New England|
|WTNH, Hartford/New Haven|
|TV stations in Northern and Central Vermont, Northeastern New York and Northwestern New Hampshire including Burlington and Plattsburgh|
|WCAX 3 (CBS) |
WPTZ 5 (NBC)
WVTB 20 (PBS)
WVNY 22 (ABC)
WNNE 31 (CW)
WETK 33 (PBS)
WYCI 40 (H&I/MNTV)
WVTA 41 (PBS)
WFFF 44 (Fox)
WLED 49 (PBS)
WCFE 57 (PBS)