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|Slogan||Atlanta's Destination Station|
|Channels||Digital: 25 (UHF)
Virtual: 36 (PSIP)
|Subchannels||36.1 - MyNetworkTV
36.2 - Bounce TV
36.3 - Antenna TV
(Pacific and Southern Company, Inc.)
|First air date||September 13, 1954
September 8, 1969
July 5, 1976 (current)
|Last air date||March 13, 1955
March 10, 1971
|Call letters' meaning||Dual meaning:
ATLanta (city of license)
ATL = code for Atlanta airport
|Former callsigns||WQXI-TV (1954-1955)
|Former channel number(s)||Analog:
36 (UHF, 1954-1955, 1969-1971, 1976-2009)
|Former affiliations||Independent (1954-1955, 1967-1971, 1976-1986)
Silent (1955-1967, 1967-1969, 1971-1976)
The WB (1995-2006)
|Transmitter power||500 kW (digital)|
|Height||332 m (1,089 ft) (digital)|
|Public license information:||Profile
WATL (virtual channel 36, digital channel 25) is a MyNetworkTV-affiliated television station in Atlanta, Georgia; it is owned by the Gannett Company and is a sister station to local NBC affiliate WXIA-TV (channel 11). WATL's callsign refers to ATLanta, the station's city of license, along with the airport code for Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. Television studios and offices are shared with WXIA and are located at One Monroe Place on the north end of midtown Atlanta.
It shares a broadcast tower with several other local stations near North Druid Hills, just northeast of the city. WATL is one of a handful of stations to have been affiliated with both News Corporation-owned networks, Fox and MyNetworkTV. The station can also be seen on Comcast channel 13 and HD channel 813.
Early history 
Channel 36 began operation on September 13, 1954 as WQXI-TV. The station, owned by UHF pioneer Robert Rounsaville, was one of about 150 UHF stations to give the new high-band spectrum a try. The TV station, which had one camera, shared a house in the northeast Atlanta area of Buckhead with WQXI radio. The radio station constantly promoted its TV sister station in an effort to build an audience. However, UHF converters were rare prior to the All-Channel Receiver Act, and programming (largely old movies, a Saturday-evening barn dance, and shots of the radio DJ spinning records) was nearly unwatchable. The station signed off after less than nine months on the air on March 13, 1955. The WQXI callsign was later used on now-sister station WXIA-TV from 1968 to 1974.
Channel 36 would remain dark until the station was relaunched on September 8, 1969 as WATL-TV, under the ownership of U.S. Communications, a broadcaster owned by Daniel H. Overmyer. Overmyer planned on signing-on the station a few years earlier as WBMO-TV as one of the owned and operated stations of the new Overmyer Network, which folded after a month on the air in 1967. This incarnation of WATL lasted only until March 10, 1971 and channel 36 went dark again. For about a week before it signed off, the station ran :30 second announcements with a photograph of its studios on an art card, announcing that it would soon cease operations, ending with the words "Thank You" on screen.
In a newspaper article reporting on the station's demise, it was reported that U.S. Communications spent $1 million on programming the first year, including Lost in Space and a block of dinnertime game shows. Ted Turner's WTCG (channel 17, later WTBS and now WPCH-TV) which had been operating a bit longer, "didn't spend a million dollars on anything" and survived. WATL was also the first station in the country to run music videos all weekend, on a show called The Now Explosion. Turner's first move after acquiring WTCG, the UHF station that would serve as the foundation of his media empire, was to take The Now Explosion from WATL.
Stability, then transition from independent station to Fox 
On July 5, 1976, Don Kennedy of The Popeye Club (a long-running Atlanta kids TV show on WSB-TV) returned channel 36 to the air for good. WATL-TV had a general entertainment format typical of non-network stations, such as public domain movies, financial news, low-budget local shows, syndicated reruns and cartoons, and a blend of CBS, NBC and ABC shows pre-empted from WAGA-TV, WSB-TV and WXIA-TV, respectively. In a common practice among independent stations at the time, the station aired subscription television in the early evening from the late 1970s to about 1981.
ATL Acquisitions Group bought the station in the early 1980s. The subscription TV format moved to new sign-on WVEU (channel 69, now WUPA) in 1982. At that time, most daytime programming now came from the Financial News Network (now part of CNBC). In 1984, the station was sold again, this time to Outlet Communications. By that time, WATL was a general entertainment independent once again. WATL became one of the charter affiliates of the newly-launched Fox Broadcasting Company in October 1986.
The "musical chairs" of ownership continued in 1989, as Outlet sold WATL, along with WXIN in Indianapolis, to Chase Broadcasting. In 1992, WATL and WXIN were included in Chase's merger with Renaissance Broadcasting. Less than a year later, WATL was sold to Fox outright and channel 36 became a Fox owned-and-operated station, and the first network-owned station in Atlanta, although for only two years (Renaissance would trade then-new sister station KDVR in Denver to Fox in exchange for KDAF in Dallas two years later). Fox was in the planning stages for a news operation at the station, and WATL had even gone as far as hiring a news director. However, on May 22, 1994, New World Communications announced an affiliation agreement with Fox, months after the network won the broadcast rights to the National Football Conference of the National Football League. In this deal, most of New World's stations, including WAGA, would switch over to the Fox network. As a result, Fox cancelled the plans for a newscast on WATL and put the station up for sale.
Finding itself about to lose Fox programming, WATL was then approached with an affiliation offer from CBS, which was losing WAGA as an affiliate; however, WATL was not interested.At that point, it almost seemed likely that WATL would join the soon-to-launch United Paramount Network in early 1995. Rival station WGNX (channel 46, now WGCL-TV), then owned by Tribune Broadcasting was already slated to join The WB Television Network and had also turned CBS down, forcing CBS to make a deal to buy WVEU. Eventually, however, Tribune agreed to let WGNX join CBS, and WVEU became the UPN affiliate.
Changing affiliations and owners 
Fox programming moved from WATL to WAGA on December 10, 1994, with WATL briefly reverting to an independent station under the branding "WATL 36". Not long after that, Fox subsequently sold the station to Qwest Broadcasting, a company partially owned by musician Quincy Jones and Tribune Broadcasting (Fox would not be without an owned-and-operated station in Atlanta for long, as they bought out New World in late 1996). Although it lost the Fox affiliation, WATL kept the Fox Kids programming, because WAGA was not interested in it. The station also affiliated with the WB in January 1995; since the sale to Qwest Broadcasting would not be finalized until December 14, 1995, WATL ended up under the unusual distinction of being affiliated with one network while owned by another, as the station became a WB affiliate (under the branding "WB 36", later changing to "WATL, Atlanta's WB" in 2004) owned by Fox, a condition which lasted nearly a year. WATL continued to air Fox Kids programming until 1999, when it moved to WHOT (channel 34, now WUVG). That year, Tribune sold WGNX to the Meredith Corporation and purchased WATL outright in February 2000. Because Tribune owned a stake in the WB, WATL could have been considered to be a WB owned-and-operated station.
On January 24, 2006, CBS Corporation (which split from Viacom at the end of 2005) and Warner Bros. Entertainment (the Time Warner division that operates the WB) announced plans to dissolve WB and UPN, combining them to launch The CW Television Network in September 2006. As part of this joint venture, it was announced that CBS-owned WUPA will become the CW's Atlanta affiliate. It would not have been an upset had WATL been chosen instead, however. CW officials were on record as preferring the "strongest" WB and UPN stations, and Atlanta was one of the few markets where the WB and UPN stations were both relatively strong. WATL was originally slated to revert to independent status, but on May 15, 2006, Tribune announced that WATL would be joining MyNetworkTV, which was formed by Fox Television Stations and its syndication division, 20th Television.
Acquisition by Gannett 
On June 5, 2006, Tribune announced that they would sell WATL to the Gannett Company, the owners of Atlanta's NBC affiliate WXIA-TV, for $180 million. The sale was completed on August 7, 2006, giving Gannett the first television duopoly in Atlanta. Like most duopolies consisting of a "Big Four" affiliate and a minor network affiliate, WATL may take up responsibility as an alternate NBC affiliate by airing programs when WXIA cannot such as in a news-related emergency. WATL aired Atlanta Falcons preseason games in August 2008 while its sister station was committed to the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Channel 36 introduced its new on-air branding, MyAtlTV on August 20, 2006, ahead of the September 5 debut of MyNetworkTV (and about a month before the WB's final night on the air). Prior to the acquisition by Gannett, WATL's studios were located at One Monroe Place. When the station was acquired, WXIA management decided to move WXIA's operations to the Monroe Place studios (an atypical instance where the senior partner in a duopoly relocates to the studios of the junior partner). During construction, WATL's studios were located with WXIA at 1611 West Peachtree Street, behind competitor WSB.
Digital channels 
|Channel||PSIP Short Name||Video||Aspect||Programming|
|36.1||WATL-TV||1080i||16:9||Main WATL programming / MyNetworkTV|
As with the same arrangement with sister stations KUSA and KTVD in Denver, WATL airs their main channel in upscaled 1080i rather than MyNetworkTV's default 720p format for operational reasons, to present syndicated programming without downscaling to the latter format, and to accommodate any NBC programming airing on WATL due to local pre-emption on WXIA.
WATL previously aired The Tube on digital channel 36.2 in June 2006, but after that network ceased in October 2007, the digital subchannel was deleted. The 11Alive Weather Information Zone was moved from channel 11.2 on WXIA in early December 2010, possibly in preparation for adding another network to that station (the lower bitrate of the low-motion weather graphics would leave more for mobile datacasting to be done on WATL than adding the new network to WATL). In 2011, Atlanta-based Bounce TV began airing on September 26 (the network's first day in operation), taking the Weather Information Zone off the air for two weeks until mid-October, when it was bounced back to channel 11.2 on WXIA. By coincidence, the first program aired by Bounce on its new flagship station in place of the WIZ was the movie The Wiz.
In late October 2011, Universal Sports was added to channel 36.3. The network, however was removing itself from broadcast distribution at the end of 2011 due to the channel transitioning to being cable-only. On December 24, 2011, the channel was replaced by Antenna TV. Ironically, WATL was owned by Antenna TV's owner, Tribune Broadcasting, from 1999-2006.
Mobile television 
At the NAB convention in April 2009, the Open Mobile Video Coalition announced that WATL would be one of the first stations to test-out new ATSC-M/H technology for mobile DTV, expected to be on the air by the end of 2009. It is also carrying the mobile DTV channels for WXIA, as that station is already at its maximum bitrate carrying three channels, and because it is on VHF, while WATL's UHF channel is better suited to mobile communications.
The station now airs Fox's Saturday morning block, Weekend Marketplace (which WAGA does not air), from 7-9 a.m. Other programs broadcast include popular nationally-syndicated game shows Jeopardy! and Wheel of Fortune, rare for a MyNetworkTV affiliate, while both also air on sister station WXIA-TV.
In September 2006 following its acquisition by Gannett, WXIA began producing a 10 p.m. newscast for WATL originally title My 11Alive News at 10 (now The Rundown at 10). The half-hour primetime newscast competes with the first half-hour of Fox owned-and-operated station WAGA-TV's nightly in-house 10 p.m. newscast that WAGA has aired since it affiliated with the Fox network in September 1994.
News/station presentation 
Newscast titles 
- My 11Alive News (2006–2008)
- 11Alive News on MyAtlTV (2008)
- 11Alive News at 10 (2008–2012)
- The Rundown at 10 (2012–present)
Station slogans 
- "Atlanta's Destination Station" (2006–present)
News team 
- "Gannett completes the acquisition of WATL-TV Channel 36 in Atlanta". Gannett.com. Retrieved 2008-11-06.
- "Antenna TV Affiliation Map". Retrieved 3 December 2011.
- "OMVC Will Showcase Mobile DTV in D.C.". wirelessandmobilenews.com. 2009-04-20. Retrieved 2009-05-10.
- WATL 10pm open
- The Rundown At 10
- WATL website
- WXIA-TV Website
- My Network TV
- Query the FCC's TV station database for WATL
- BIAfn's Media Web Database -- Information on WATL-TV