WWTI, virtual channel 50 (UHF digital channel 21), is an ABC-affiliated television station licensed to Watertown, New York, United States and serving Upstate New York's North Country. The station is owned by Nexstar Media Group. WWTI's studios are located at Stateway Plaza (with an Arsenal Street/NY 3 postal address) in the town of Watertown, and its transmitter is located on Hayes Road in Copenhagen (a village of Denmark). The station can also be seen on Charter Spectrum channel 5 and in high definition on digital channel 889.
Although it continues to identify as a separate station in its own right, WWTI is actually considered a semi-satellite of WSYR-TV (channel 9) in Syracuse. As such, this station clears all network programming as provided by its parent, simulcasts most of WSYR's newscasts and airs some of its syndicated programming (albeit at different times). There are also some programs that only air on WWTI while some are only seen on WSYR. WWTI also airs separate station identifications and commercials. Master control and some internal operations of WWTI are based at centralcasting facilities within WSYR's studios on Bridge Street in East Syracuse (a village of DeWitt).
The station signed-on February 1, 1985 with the calls WJCK. Airing an analog signal on UHF channel 50, it replaced a low-powered translator of Utica's ABC affiliate WUTR previously on the allotment. The station was the third outlet established in Watertown after WWNY-TV and WPBS. Prior to WJCK's launch, WWNY was a secondary ABC affiliate and also served Massena and Malone along with WIXT-TV (now WSYR) from Syracuse.
At its sign-on, WJCK took over operation of repeater W25AB channel 25 in Massena to better serve the St. Lawrence River Valley. However, WVNY in Burlington, Vermont eventually launched a translator (W60AF channel 60) of its own in Malone. WJCK also operated a second repeater (W25AB channel 25) in order to expand its reach in and around Watertown. The station became WFYF on August 8, 1986.
In addition to being an ABC affiliate from the start, it shared a secondary NBC affiliation with WWNY until 1995, and also shared a secondary Fox affiliation with WWNY beginning October 9, 1986. While the latter cleared more of NBC and/or Fox's programming offerings, WFYF aired NBC Sports' coverage of National Football League (NFL) games on Sunday afternoons, which lasted until 1995 when it began airing Fox Sports' NFL games (in addition to carrying Monday Night Football through ABC). Its original ownership team consisted of several investors including General Manager David James Alteri, Steven Fox, and Richard Kimball. After the station went bankrupt under the initial partnership, it was sold to Robert Smith of Smith Broadcasting in 1990 and the current call sign WWTI was adopted September 14. A new General Manager, Shelly Markoff, took control of operations.
In 2000, the United Communications Corporation (owner of WWNY) entered into an agreement with Smith Broadcasting to make WWTI's repeaters (W28BC and W25AB) separate full-time Fox affiliates known together as WNYF. After a year of joint operation, United Communications took complete ownership of the two stations. The Ackerley Group purchased WWTI in 2000, reuniting channel 50 with former parent WUTR, at which point David Males, then General Sales Manager, was promoted to General Manager. It joined Ackerley's cluster of New York stations with master control and other internal operations based out of centralcasting facilities at flagship WIXT in Syracuse. Clear Channel Communications would take control of the station with its purchase of Ackerley in 2001. On July 30, 2003, WWTI began broadcasting a digital signal on UHF channel 21.
On April 20, 2007, Clear Channel entered into an agreement to sell its entire television station unit to Newport Television (a subsidiary of private equity group Providence Equity Partners). Newport announced on July 19, 2012 that it would sell twelve of its stations, including WWTI, to the Nexstar Broadcasting Group. The deal once again reunited WWTI with WUTR, by then owned by Mission Broadcasting and operated by Nexstar, and also paired it with WUTR's virtual sisters WFXV and WPNY-LP. The transaction was completed on December 3.
WWTI-DT2, branded on-air as The North Country CW, is the CW+-affiliated second digital subchannel of WWTI, broadcasting in 720p high definition on UHF channel 21.2 (or virtual channel 50.2 via PSIP). The subchannel can also be seen on Slic Network Solutions' myEVTV service in St. Lawrence County on channel 14 and Spectrum channel 14.
In September 1998, an agreement between this station and Time Warner Cable allowed WWTI to launch cable-exclusive WB affiliate "WBWT". The arrangement was established during a period when The WB deployed various network stations outside the top 100 markets as cable-only channels. WWTI provided sales and promotional opportunities to "WBWT" which was originally seen on Time Warner Cable channel 31. Since it was a cable-exclusive outlet, the call sign was not officially recognized by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). At some point in time, "WBWT" moved to the more appropriate channel 14 slot allowing it to be known on-air as "Watertown's WB 14".
On January 24, 2006, The WB and UPN announced the two networks would end broadcasting and merge. The new combined service would be called The CW. The letters would represent the first initial of corporate parents CBS (the parent company of UPN) and the Warner Bros. unit of Time Warner. Some of UPN's programming was seen in Watertown on WNYF in a secondary nature through a tape-delayed arrangement. On May 18, it was confirmed "WBWT" would be joining The CW via The CW Plus (a similar operation to The WB 100+). When the new network launched on September 18, WWTI created a second digital subchannel to offer non-cable viewers access to CW programming. "WBWT" dropped the faux call sign in favor of WWTI-DT2 which began to be used in an official manner. On August 17, 2012, it started broadcasting in HD.
On March 4, 2013, WPTZ's second digital subchannel assumed the CW affiliation for the Plattsburgh/Burlington market. Since the main WPTZ channel also serves as one of the default NBC affiliates for Massena, New York (along with WSTM-TV in Syracuse), that area now has access to two CW affiliates when WWTI-DT2 is included.
|TV stations in New York|
| WABC, New York City|
|TV stations in New York|
| WPIX, New York City|
|TV Stations in Northern New York State and the St. Lawrence Valley, including Watertown|
|Watertown/Carthage||St. Lawrence County|
|WWNY 7 (CBS)||WNPI 18 (PBS)|
|WPBS 16 (PBS)||WWNY-CD 28 (Fox)|
|WNYF-CD 28 (Fox)|
|WVNC-LD 45 (NBC)|
|WWTI 50 (ABC)|